Tokyo stocks lost ground Wednesday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index losing 0.52 percent as investors looked to cash in on gains made following the market's rise yesterday on the Bank of Japan's move to bolster its loan support system.
Local traders said that the yen's moves versus the U.S. dollar weren't enough to detract market players from locking in profits as jitters remained following worse-than-expected fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data in Japan released at the beginning of the week and concerns that sluggish household spending may be further impacted by April's tax hike from 5 to 8 percent.
Following Nikkei's biggest one-day gain Tuesday since August on the central bank's plans to stimulate borrowing, while holding off on fresh stimulus measures, it's natural that investors were looking to secure profits today, remarked one Tokyo-based equities strategist.
Other analysts pointed to ongoing concerns about the health of the U.S. economy as creating a circumspect market mood and an unwillingness to chase issues higher, despite some stocks still deemed to be undervalued.
Toshikazu Horiuchi, an equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co., said that "given the lackluster U.S. macroeconomic data, it has become difficult to evaluate U.S. economic strength."
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 76.71 points from Tuesday to close at 14,766.53, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange shed 5.48 points, or 0.45 percent, to finish the day at 1,218.52.
With the yen climbing for the first time in three days against the U.S. dollar to the lower 102 level, exporters came under pressure, with Sony dropping 1.8 percent to 1,748 yen and rival Panasonic retreating 2.4 percent to close at 1,147 yen.
Tire maker Bridgestone fell 4.3 percent to 3,637 yen, following worse-than-expected profit forecasts and Toyota, the world's largest automaker, skidded down 0.58 percent to close the day at 5, 910 yen.
Trading volume on Wednesday dropped to 2.27 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Tuesday's volume of 2.92 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,141 to 529.