Japanese stocks sat weaker in early Friday moves, but the losses were driven in large part by the long list of blue-chip shares trading without rights to their latest divdends. As the market priced in the ex-divdend status of many top stocks, the Nikkei Average was down 0.2% in the initial minutes -- though off an opening loss of 0.5% -- while the broader Topix eased 0.4% lower. Among some of the names taking ex-div losses, Fanuc Corp. gave up 2.6%, Toyota Motor Corp. fell 1.3%, and Nissan Motor Co. retreated 2%. But if the values of the dividends were factored out, according to FactSet, then Fanuc was down just 0.7%, Nissan was down 0.6%, and Toyota was up 0.3% after unveiling some production improvements, including an effort to boost the fuel efficiency of its hybrids. And among names not going ex-dividend, Sony Corp. rose 1.9%, Olympus Corp. added 2.2%, and in the retailing space, Fast Retailing Co. gained 1%, Lawson Inc. rallied 3.6%, and 7-Eleven operator Seven & I Holdings Co. climbed 1.3%. The retail sector advance followed data released just before the open showing February sales down 1.8% from a year earlier, but those for the large retailers rising 1.3%. Also helping fuel the gains was a turn lower for the yen, with the dollar buying �119.24, up from �118.57 at the previous close.
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