Japan Stocks Trim Opening Loss, With Autos Down, But Sony Up

Japan's stock market managed to whittle down its opening loss Monday morning, but remained broadly weaker under the influence of a firm yen and a heavy decline on Wall Street. In early trade, the blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.4%, about half the level of its deficit at the open, while the broader Topix was lower by 0.6%. The pullback followed on from a significant retreat for U.S. shares Friday, including a 1.5% drop for the tech-heavy Nasdaq , and a slight gain for the yen, with the dollar buying �118.87, after spending much of the previous Tokyo stock session around the �119 mark. Auto makers were a weak spot, failing to get a bump from the ongoing Shanghai auto show, with Honda Motor Co. down 1.6%, Nissan Motor Co. down 1.2%, Toyota Motor Corp. down 0.9%, and Suzuki Motor Corp. losing 1.8% after a Nikkei news report said the car and motorcycle producer's operating profit likely fell by 5% during the fiscal year that ended in March. The tech and industrial sectors also saw some significant declines, with Sharp Corp. down 1.5%, Nikon Corp. down 2.6%, Renesas Electronics Corp. down 1.4%, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. down 1.3%. On the other hand, robot maker Fanuc Corp. -- which is heavily exposed to China -- improved by 1.7%, possibly helped by Chinese monetary stimulus announced over the weekend. Sony Corp. rose 0.7%, perhaps boosted in part by a better-than-expected debut for its film "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2." Among the top advancers, retail major J. Front Retailing Co. rallied 3.4% and mail-order company Senshukai Co. added 3.7% after Reuters reported J. Front was taking an almost 23% stake in Senshukai. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. got a 2% bump higher amid plans to team with Kyoto University on stem-cell research, according to the Nikkei. And shares in Skymark Airlines Inc. remained untraded, with several reports saying larger rival ANA Holdings Inc. may invest in the bankrupt discount carrier. ANA shares rose 0.2%.

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