The Nikkei stock index retreated 0. 19 percent Monday as worse-than-expected employment growth in the U.S. soured the market mood and triggered a risk-on mood, while a stronger yen sent the market's key exporter issues lower.
The Nikkei 225 stock average lost 37.10 points to end at 19,397. 98, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 3.45 points, or 0.22 percent, to close the day at 1,560.71.
Brokers here said that U.S. Labor Department's report released Friday showing that employers added 126,000 nonfarm workers in March, the lowest in more than a year, dampened investor sentiment due to concerns of a slowdown in the U.S. economy.
They said that despite the market being underpinned by institutional investors like the government pension fund, concerns were rife that the employment data, which showed particular weakness in the goods-producing and mining sectors, due to falling prices for crude, may led to the U.S. Federal Reserve hiking its key interest rate at an earlier juncture.
"The U.S. economy has hit a soft patch due to the stronger dollar and weaker oil. First-quarter earnings and gross domestic product probably won't be good," said Shoji Hirakawa, chief equity strategist at Okasan Securities Co..
Other analysts pointed to broader concerns about the market, suggesting that its recent rally sent prices higher too quickly and despite a recent correction, the market would likely not rise due to sluggish domestic corporate earnings and outlooks, set to be announced forthwith.
"The Japanese stock market should struggle to climb higher. The rally over the last two months was too sharp and company forecasts for this fiscal year will probably be low," said Akihiro Tsunoda, a senior investment manager at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management Co..
The dollar dropping to 118.97 yen during trading hours Monday from 119.62 yen logged Friday also contributed to slumping sentiment, as a stronger yen adversely affects export-related firms' competitiveness in overseas markets and their profit outlooks, which drags down the broader market.
As such, Toyota Motor reversed 1.1 percent to 8,333 yen and Nissan Motor decelerated 1.6 percent to close at 1,209 yen. Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of Subaru brand cars, also closed in negative territory, dropping 1.5 percent to 4,069 yen.
Toshiba was a notable decliner, falling 4.9 percent to 487 yen, after the Tokyo-based multinational conglomerate alluded to some accounting issues on infrastructure projects conducted in 2013.
Shipping lines also came under pressure, with Nippon Yusen, the tenth largest container transportation and shipping company in the world, sank 2 percent to 340 yen, owing to the Baltic Dry Index, a gauge measuring shipping commodities, sliding to a six-week low.
But Sharp marked a particular bright spot on the first trading day of the week, jumping 6.1 percent to a 14-month high at 245 yen, following news the electronics maker will receive capital from the state-backed Innovation Network Corp. for its struggling LCD business.
Trading volume on Monday dropped to a year-low at 1.59 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Friday's volume of 1.71 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,122 to 606.