Japan Stocks Head Lower, With Sony, Sharp Among Decliners

Japanese stocks dribbled lower in early Friday trade, with headwinds from a stronger yen, weak U.S. lead and reported foreign selling all pressing the main indexes downward. The Nikkei Stock Average was weaker by 0.5% about half an hour into trade, while the broader Topix was down 0.3%. Modest losses on Wall Street appeared to dampen sentiment, with Dow Jones Newswires reporting that offshore accounts at the six foreign brokerages it monitors saw net selling for a second straight day. But the biggest drag may be the rebounding yen, with the dollar slipping back below the �119 handle, buying �118.98 compared to �119.27 at the previous Tokyo stock close. Major decliners included Nissan Motor Co. (down 0.7%), Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (down 1.5%), TDK Corp. (down 1.9%), FamilyMart Co. (down 2.9%), and Sapporo Holdings Ltd. (down 3.2%). Shares of Sony Corp. took a 2.6% hit after WikiLeaks published a searchable database of the Sony Pictures Entertainment emails and other documents, which hackers stole and posted late last year. Sharp Corp. gave up 1.8% after rallying previously on news of a capital injection from some of its creditors. Sharp confirmed reaching the deal Thursday, and reports Friday tipped coming job cuts as the company prepared to scale back its LCD television unit and other struggling businesses. Shares of Alps Electric Co. dropped 4.5%, pulling back from gains at the start of the week, when Goldman Sachs listed the stock on its conviction buy list. Shares of McDonald's Holdings Co. Japan , meanwhile, fell 1.3% in the wake of the company's loss warning for the current year. On the upside, however, were the financials, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. up 1.5% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. rising 1.9%.

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