Japan Stocks Head South, With Autos Weak After Earnings

Japanese stocks saw their early Monday gains melt away, as a rising yen helped to limit the upside, and a couple of disappointing earnings reports dragged on the auto sector. The Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.5% about 20 minutes into trade, with the broader Topix down 0.4%. The dollar was buying �118.78, solidly lower than the �119.62 recorded at the same time on Friday. The big tech and industrial blue chips were mixed: On the downside, Nintendo Co. lost 1.3%, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. fell 1.1%, and Sony Corp. retreated by 1.7%, failing to get a boost from a Nikkei news report tipping an even stronger operating profit than predicted in Sony's latest earnings-forecast upgrade. On the other hand, Panasonic Corp. added 1.1%, Nikon Corp. improved by 2.2%, and shares of NEC Corp. rallied 3.5% after a separate Nikkei news item said the Japanese company would team with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. on a cloud-computing venture in Asia. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. were both lower after their respective earnings results, with their stock down 4.1% and 3%, respectively. This appeared to weigh on the rest of the sector, which was trading broadly weaker, as Toyota Motor Corp. gave up 1%, and Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. dropped 0.5% each. In the retail space, Lawson Inc. rallied 2.2% on reported plans to open more of its convenience stores at local railway stations.

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