Japanese stocks opened sharply weaker Thursday morning, taking their cue from a broad retreat on U.S. markets overnight and a strengthening of the yen, with the dollar slipping below �109 after having briefly topped �110 during the previous session (currently quoted at �108.94). The Nikkei Average fell 1.2% to 15,890.92, adding to the previous session's 0.6% pullback and moving back below the 16,000 level for the first time since mid September. Conspicuous decliners included Panasonic Corp. (down 1.9%), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (down 2.2%), Murata Manufacturing Co. (down 3.5%), Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (down 2.4%), and Japan Airlines Co. (down 3.5%). Strong U.S. sales for many of the top auto makers failed to help their shares, with Toyota Motor Corp. down 1.3%, Honda Motor Co. down 2%, and Nissan Motor Co. down 1.4%. Nissan reported a 19% sales gain from September of last year, while Toyota's sales rose 1.7%, and those of Honda surged 12% though with sizeable spending on sales incentives. Among the few gainers, Dentsu Inc. managed to edge 0.2% higher as a McClatchy-Tribune interview with one the advertising agency's executives spoke of strong gains for its India business.
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