Japan Stocks Slip After Recent Gains, Ahead Of Earnings, Holidays

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After a string of gains that propelled the Nikkei Stock Average back above 20,000 for the first time in a decade and a half, Tokyo stock traders turned cautious Friday, with the Nikkei Average down 0.4% and the broader Topix 0.2% lower as some money came off the table. The pause from recent gains -- which has put the benchmark index up almost 5% for the month -- came as earnings season kicked off, and with Golden Week holiday period set to begin next week. It also coincided with a modest rise in the yen, with the dollar buying �119.53, down from around �119.90 a day earlier. The blue chips were mixed, with Sharp Corp. down 1.5% and Japan Tobacco Inc. down 1.1% after both stocks saw strong gains in the previous session, though Sony Corp. managed to climb 1.2% in the second day of trade since its latest profit-forecast upgrade, while Nikon Corp. added 1.1%. The auto makers were mixed as well, with Toyota Motor Corp. down 0.4% and Nissan Motor Co. off 0.5%, but with Honda Motor Co. up 1.3% after unveiling its much-ballyhooed HondaJet aircraft on Thursday. Among the smaller auto names, Mazda Motor Corp. edged up 0.1%, and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. eased 0.4% lower, as both companies prepared to announce their earnings after the market close. Elsewhere on the market, Sumitomo Chemical Co. jumped 5.8% higher after favorable first-half earnings results from Australia's Nufarm Ltd. , in which it holds a large stake (though Sydney-listed shares of Nufarm saw only mild gains). And Fujifilm Holdings Corp. moved off its early highs but was still up 0.3% after a Nikkei news report said the company would report a forecast-beating rise of more than 40% in its fiscal-year net profit.

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