Japan Stocks Seesaw, With Auto Stocks Weak

Japanese stocks bobbed up and down in early Monday trade, with techs mixed, and weakness for auto makers capping broad market gains. After briefly turning negative, the Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.2% about 20 minutes into trade but still some 75 points below the 20,000 level it briefly breached last week. The Topix was down 0.2%, while the yen was a little higher than during the last Tokyo stock session, with the dollar buying �120.11 compared to the mid-�120s previously. There was no obvious reaction to Sunday's local elections in Japan, the results of which favored the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among the movers, some of the tech majors saw solid gains, with Canon Inc. up 1.3%, Nintendo Co. up 1.6%, and NEC Corp. up 1.3%. Shares of Sony Corp. advanced 0.6%, with the move coming as a Nikkei news report said the company had developed low-priced image sensors for cut-rate smartphones aimed at developing-nation markets. But some techs lost ground, including Panasonic Corp. (down 0.8%) and Fujitsu Ltd. (down 1.5%). Auto stocks slid, meanwhile, with Toyota Motor Corp. down 1.1%, Honda Motor Co. down 2.1%, and Nissan Motor Co. off 1.9%, ahead of Chinese trade data due out later in the morning. Other industrials were more mixed, failing to get much of a boost from machinery-order data out ahead of the market open, which showed a much smaller drop than expected (down 0.4% in February, vs. a Wall Street Journal forecast for a 2.5% drop). Shares of Nidec Corp. rose 0.4%, Fanuc Corp. was flat, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. fell 0.8%. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. was down 0.4% after its new aircraft unit again postponed the maiden flight for its Mitsubishi Regional Jet, according to the Nikkei. Among financials, brokers Nomura Holdings Inc. and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. rose 1.7% and 0.9%, respectively, after a winning session for U.S. shares Friday.

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