Japan Stocks Dip In Quiet Christmas Trade

MarketWatch Pulse

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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