Japan Blue-chip Stocks Slip As Fast Retailing Weighs On Market

By MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese blue-chip stocks slipped in early Friday trade as a slightly firmer yen helped to grease the skids. The Nikkei Average was down 0.3% in the first 20 minutes, underperforming the broader Topix's 0.1% gain, as shares of Fast Retailing Co. -- the Nikkei's top-weighted component -- fell 2.9% after reporting a surprise double-digit drop for June sales at its Uniqlo stores. With the dollar retreating to �123.05 from its day-earlier level of �123.33, some exporters trended lower, all the more so as the market awaited the outcome of Greece's referendum on its bailout package, slated for Sunday. Shares of Sony Corp. lost 0.7%, Panasonic Corp. retreated 1.1%, Sharp Corp. gave up 1.2%, and Honda Motor Co. weakened by 0.8%, also possibly weighed by a tepid U.S. jobs reports released overnight. On the other hand, Nissan Motor Co. rose 1.7%, adding to gains the previous day on the back of strong U.S. June sales, while Toshiba Corp. improved by 1.1%, and Kyocera Corp. was up 1.2% after settling a patent suit by Microsoft Corp. and agreeing to expand a tech-sharing deal between the two companies. Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. rose 1.1% as a Nikkei news report tipped the beverage maker to post an unexpected gain in its first-half operating profit. Still, Asahi's rise trailed those of rivals Kirin Holdings Co. (up 2.3%) and Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. (up 1.5%).

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