Japan Stocks Swing Down Then Up, As Yen Creates Headwinds

MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks took a rollercoaster ride early Monday, opening higher and then dropping to negative territory, only to recover its gains about half an hour into the session, with the Nikkei Average up 0.2% but the Topix 0.2% lower. Still, the Tokyo market faced headwinds as the yen crept higher and industrial data disappointed. The dollar edged modestly lower to �119.23, compared to �119.44 at the end of the previous stock session, causing some currency-sensitive blue chips to give ground. The situation wasn't helped by industrial-production numbers released just before the open, showing output down 3.4%, significantly worse than the 1.8% drop forecast in separate Wall Street Journal and Reuters surveys. In the wake of all this, Sony Corp. and Honda Motor Co. fell 1.1% each, Toshiba Corp. lost 1%, Fanuc Corp. dropped 1.3%, and Toyota Motor Corp. weakened by 1.4%. Stock in Seiko Epson Corp. retreated 4%, the move coinciding with a Digitimes report citing unnamed company sources as saying the U.S. inkjet-printer market is expected to grow in value, but shipments overall are likely to decline this year. On the other hand, Panasonic Corp. added 1%, and while reasons for the advance weren't immediately clear, the gain came as the Nikkei reported that Panasonic Healthcare planned to buy German drugmaker Bayer AG's blood-glucose-meter unit for about �100 billion ($830 million). Still, Panasonic Healthcare is only 20% owned by Panasonic Corp., with the rest having been sold to KKR & Co. LP of the U.S. last year. Among other early gainers, drug maker Astellas Pharma Inc. and ad agency Dentsu Inc. improved by 2.1% each, Yamato Holdings Co. advanced 3%, and Yahoo Japan Corp. added 2% after U.S. parent and minority owner Yahoo Inc. rose 1.4% on Friday.

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