Japan Stocks Seesaw, With Pharma Shares Up As MERS Fears Rise

MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks bopped back and forth across the break-even line in choppy early Friday trade, with the Nikkei Average up 0.1% about 20 minutes into the session, taking a breather after rallying 1.7% the day before. The Topix was also 0.1% higher after a seesaw start, while the yen was a little softer, with the dollar buying �123.59, up from �123.28 late Thursday in Tokyo. The top tech and industrial blue chips were mixed, with Sony Corp. up 0.3%, Olympus Corp. higher by 1%, and TDK Corp. quoted up 2% after a 2.1% advance the previous day. On the other hand, Sharp Corp. lost 1.2%, Panasonic Corp. fell 0.6%, and Toshiba Corp. softened by 0.9% as the Nikkei reported the company would formally admit in a stock filing that its previous accounting controls were inadequate. Pharmaceutical shares were a bright spot as concerns about the MERS virus spread throughout East Asia, and after the U.S. NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index and NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index rose 0.4% and 0.9%, respectively, to outperform the broader market. Shares of Astellas Pharma Inc. rose 1.6% Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. added 0.5%, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. gained 1.5% amd Daiichi Sankyo Co. climbed 0.8%. Among the auto stocks, Toyota Motor Corp. traded 0.6% higher after announcing plans to build three new facilities in Michigan, as reported by Dow Jones Newswires. On the downside, energy shares tracked the losses for oil futures overnight, with Inpex Corp. down 0.8%, Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. off 0.6%, and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. weaker by 1.1%.

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