Tokyo stocks extended loses Friday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index losing 0.62 percent to a fresh two-and-a-half-month low as gains made in the morning session were erased by the yen's appreciation and investors' risk- aversion over unabated emerging economies currency woes.
Tokyo-based brokers said that investors snapped up bargains in early trading, spurred on by U.S. stocks closing higher overnight on robust GDP data from the world's largest economy, but following the U.S. dollar retreating from the upper 102 yen level, investors opted not to chase issues higher ahead of the weekend but to secure profits.
Analysts added that the recent tapering of stimulus measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the central bank's blase views on the recent market turmoil caused by the mass selloff of emerging economies' currencies led investors to lock in gains and take a wait-and-see approach ahead of key U.S. and Japanese corporate earnings reports.
Yoshihisa Okamoto from Mizuho Asset Management Co. said that currency issues in emerging economies may have global effects further reaching than previously anticipated. The head of equity research added that Fed not showing concern over the issue had sparked consternation among investors.
Other analysts pointed to the need for further market cues before investors would take up bolder positions, as profit-taking dominated the latter session Friday, erasing earlier gains.
Ayako Terada from Nomura Securities Co.'s investment research department noted that the U.S. jobs report for January would be key to investors taking up bolder positions going forward, while other strategists highlighted the fact that Asian markets being closed for the lunar new year holidays, also sent some market players to the sidelines Friday.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 92.53 points from Thursday, to finish the week at its lowest closing level since Nov. 14 at 14,914.53, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange relinquished 3.45 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 1,220.64.
Among notable decliners Friday, exporters lost ground, with Toshiba tumbling 7.49 percent to 432 yen, following reports of a nine-month net profit drop of around 29 percent, owing to increased taxes and third-quarter operating profits that came in at 467 million U.S. dollars, far below median market forecasts.
Nintendo retreated 1.41 percent to 12,150 yen, on slumping sales of its Wii U games console and the announcement of its business plan to stay in the game hardware making industry, monopolized by Sony and Microsoft, and camera maker Nikon Corp. fell 2.1 percent to 1,769 yen.
Among heavily-weighted automaker issues, Toyota skidded down 1. 3 percent to 5,922 yen, while smaller rival Honda lost 0.25 percent to 3,893 yen. Hino Motors, meanwhile, added 1.2 percent to 1,526 yen, after reporting record group sales in the April- December period.
Budget carrier Skymark Airlines was among Friday's notable decliners, slumping 3.9 percent to 372 yen, following reports the airline will announce worse-than-expected losses for the current fiscal year on rising fuel costs.
Gainers on the last trading day of the week included Fujitsu who soared 12.89 percent to 578 yen, following the firm announcing it had returned to profit in the last quarter, owing to the yen's retreat and robust PC and IT services sales.
NEC was also among Friday's winners, leaping 10.74 percent to 299 yen, despite announcing losses for the last quarter following its departure from the smartphone business and restructuring costs. The company said the sale of Internet service provider subsidiary NEC Biglobe Ltd., a mobile carrier unit, had netted the firm a significant profit, offsetting its quarterly losses.
Trading volume on Friday rose to 3.08 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, up from Thursday's volume of 3.04 billion shares, with declining issues outpacing advancing ones by 948 to 694.