Japanese investors sent the market slightly lower in early Thursday trade, with volumes expected to be very light as many of the world's top bourses were closed for Christmas. Despite a slight implied gain on the futures market, the Nikkei Stock Average opened lower by 0.3% to give back a portion of the previous day's 1.2% advance, while the Topix shed 0.2%. After the Tokyo close Wednesday, the dollar fell back below �120.50 to �120.41 by the Thursday open, offering an excuse to sell some of the big exporters (Nikon Corp. down 2%, Toshiba Corp. down 0.7%, Japan Display Inc. down 1.9%). That said, the Japanese currency was still weak enough to continue to weigh on those names that can get hurt from a falling yen (Tokyo Electric Power Co. down 0.4%, Nissin Foods Holdings Co. down 0.5%). Shares of Sony Corp. lost 0.8% as its entertainment division decided to depart from usual distribution methods by offering its big-budget comedy "The Interview" via some online streaming services, even as various independent cinemas planned to show the film. Shares in Takata Corp. edged up 0.1% on news its president was resigning amid ongoing problems over the company's faulty air bags. Stock in Japan Airlines Co. dropped 4.6%, with Dow Jones Newswires tying the move to the forgoing of a tax-waiver report. Shares of Sapporo Holdings Ltd. rose 0.4%, and those of Toyota Tsusho Corp. gained 0.8% following news of their joint purchase of U.S. juice maker Country Pure Foods, with the Nikkei reporting the price as $100 million.
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