Japan Stocks Decline Amid Low Trading Volume; Takashimaya Drops

Japanese stocks slipped amid slow holiday trading, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average heading for its worst annual performance since 2008. Retailer Takashimaya Co. led declines after cutting its outlook.

Takashimaya lost 3.6 percent after reducing its annual net-income forecast on higher taxes. Olympus Corp., the camera maker reeling from a $1.7 billion accounting scandal, slid 2.1 percent after correcting earnings reports. Obayashi Corp. and other contractors gained after a report Japan will start work on three bullet train lines.

The Nikkei 225 fell 0.5 percent to 8,440.56 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo. The Nikkei has declined 17 percent this year, with three trading days remaining. Volume on the gauge today was almost 60 percent below the 100-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The broader Topix Index lost 0.3 percent to 724.25, with about three shares dropping for every two that gained.

“There’s no outstanding catalyst to buy stocks,” said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a strategist at Tokyo-based SMBC Friend Securities Co. “Trading energy plunged in the Tokyo market yesterday. Today as well, we can’t expect foreign investors to buy shares as the overseas markets are closed.”

The value of stocks traded on the Topix declined to 460.6 billion yen ($5.9 billion), the lowest full-day turnover since April 2003 and 64 percent below this year’s daily average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The following are among the most active shares in the Japanese market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.

Builders: Obayashi Corp. (1802 JT) and other construction companies gained after the Nikkei newspaper reported Japan will build three bullet train lines. The work will begin this fiscal year, according to the report, which cited Transportation Minister Takeshi Maeda.

Obayashi rose 1.8 percent to 338 yen after Daiwa Securities Group Inc. boosted it to “outperform” from “neutral.” The brokerage maintained its “bullish” rating for the sector, citing rebuilding demand after the March earthquake. Kajima Corp. (1812 JT) added 2.2 percent to 233 yen. Taisei Corp. (1801 JT) rose 2.1 percent to 194 yen, while Shimizu Corp. (1803 JT) climbed 1.3 percent to 317 yen.

Hokkoku Bank Ltd. (8363 JT), a regional lender, gained 2.2 percent to 274 yen after announcing it will buy back as much as 1.5 percent of its shares for up to 1.55 billion yen ($20 million).

Olympus Corp. (7733 JT) slipped 2.1 percent to 1,005 yen after amending earnings reports initially filed Dec. 14 to correct mistakes including rounding errors. None of the revisions are significant, spokesman Yasutoshi Fujiwara said by phone.

Sumitomo Chemical Co. (4005 JT) gained 2.9 percent to 285 yen. Deutsche Bank AG maintained the stock’s “buy” rating, saying the chemical maker’s earnings will likely beat competitors on its growing agrochemical business and improved profit at its Rabigh Refining & Petrochemicals Co. venture.

Takashimaya Co. (8233 JT), a department-store operator, sank 3.6 percent to 560 yen. The retailer cut its net-income forecast 18 percent to 9 billion yen, citing rising corporate taxes.

Tsudakoma Corp. (6217 JT), a maker of textile machinery, soared 14 percent to 176 yen. Net income in the year ended Nov. 30 was 850 million yen, beating its forecast by 89 percent, according to a preliminary earnings statement. Administrative cost cuts and a gain from deferred tax assets contributed to the results, the release said.

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