Japan Stocks Weaken, With Honda, Takata Lower

Japanese stocks took a step backward early Thursday, with the Nikkei Average and Topix down 0.3% each, as the market held to its inverse correlation to the yen. As the dollar eased to �117.65, down from �117.85 at the Wednesday Tokyo stock close, investors sold down the forex-sensitive names, including Sharp Corp. (down 1.1%), Sony Corp. (down 1.8%), and Konica Minolta Inc. (down 1%). Some tech exporters bucked the trend, however, supported by gains overnight for their U.S. shares: Panasonic Corp. added 0.8% after its American despository shares added 0.7%, while Toshiba Corp. rose 1.3% in Tokyo after its ADS gained 0.9%. Shares of auto-parts maker Takata Corp. plunged 6% on its regulatory troubles in the U.S., and Honda Motor Co. was down 1.5% as Reuters said the company had recalled cars with Takata airbags in early 2002, two years earlier than previously thought. On the upside for automotives, however, SPK Corp. rallied 4.7% as a Nikkei news report said the auto-parts trader would continue its practice of annual dividend hikes "at least until fiscal 2019."

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