Japanese stocks downshifted in early Friday trades, with a solid drop for Wall Street, a flat yen and general caution ahead of the May U.S. jobs report due later in the day all translated into a 0.4% loss for the Nikkei Average and a 0.6% pullback for the Topix . The yen was only marginally lower, with the dollar at �124.49, up from �124.37 late Thursday. Many of the biggest names were in retreat, tracking the broader market move, with Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. down 0.8% each, Sony Corp. down 1.4%, Panasonic Corp. down 1.2%, and Hitachi Ltd. down 1.1%, though heavily weighted Fast Retailing Co. sat flat. Stock in tire maker Sumitomo Rubber Industries Co. dropped 2.2% after news that its decade-and-a-half alliance with larger U.S. peer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. was over, though Sumitomo will retain rights to sell Goodyear's Dunlop-brand tires in the Japanese market and will receive a $271 million payment from the Ohio-based company. Bucking the downtrend, Kirin Holdings Co. rose 0.5%, and Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. added 0.2%, as a Nikkei news report said the two were increasing their whiskey production as global demand rises. Rival beverage majors Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Holdings Ltd. outperformed Kirin and Suntory, however, advancing 1.3% and 0.6%, respectively.
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