Japanese stocks fell for the first time in four days after a bailout for Greece was delayed. Losses were limited as the yen held near a three-month low against the dollar, boosting the outlook for exporters.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. slid after rising 5.4 percent in the two days following a surprise decision by the Bank of Japan to buy more bonds. Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s biggest shipping line by sales, lost 2.9 percent after a gauge of cargo rates dropped. Sony Corp., the nation’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, rose 0.9 percent. Tokyo Electric Power Co. gained 3.8 percent after a report utilities may be allowed to restart nuclear power plants.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average retreated from a six-month high, sliding 0.2 percent to 9,238.10 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo after swinging between gains and losses of 0.5 percent. The broader Topix Index fell 0.3 percent to 800.25, with more than twice as many shares declining as advancing.
“Investors are irritated because Greek debt issues aren’t being decided,” said Naoteru Teraoka, general manager at Tokyo-based Chuo Mitsui Asset Management Co., which oversees about $29.6 billion. “The BOJ’s monetary easing was a positive surprise. The yen is unlikely to strengthen, supporting stocks.”
Japanese stocks today outperformed most major Asian markets, with the MSCI Asia Pacific Ex-Japan Index falling 1.6 percent. The central bank’s decision to expand asset purchases this week pushed the yen to its lowest against the dollar since Nov. 1, boosting the earnings outlook for exporters such as Sony, which gets about a fifth of its sales from the U.S. The electronics maker gained 0.9 percent to 1,589 yen today.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.5 percent today. The gauge slid 0.5 percent in New York yesterday as European officials delayed a decision on a 130-billion euro ($170 billion) bailout for Greece until at least Feb. 20 and possibly until after the Mediterranean nation holds elections later in the year.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group lost 1.7 percent to 401 yen, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s No. 2 lender by market value, retreated 1.3 percent to 2,667 yen.
The Topix has added 6 percent this month, outpacing a 2.4 percent gain on the S&P 500 and a 3.8 percent increase for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Technical indicators have risen above levels that suggest the Topix is overbought.
The 14-day relative strength index for the Topix rose to 73.7, above the 70 threshold that some traders see as a sign the index is poised to reverse course. The 25-day Toraku gauge, an indicator of market momentum, topped 120 for a third day, suggesting the market may fall.
The following were among the most active shares in the Japanese market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.
Shipping lines declined the most among the 33 Topix industry groups. Nippon Yusen K.K. (9101 JT) fell 2.9 percent to 238 yen. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (9104 JT) slid 2.8 percent to 353 yen, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (9107 JT) lost 3.3 percent to 178 yen. The stocks declined after the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, yesterday fell for the first time since Feb. 3. UBS AG also cut the equity ratings on the companies to “sell” from “neutral.”
Daiwa Securities Group Inc. (8601 JT), Japan’s second-largest brokerage, rose 2.3 percent to 309 yen. Its Hong Kong unit cut 10 percent of its 600 positions this week as part of the parent’s cost-cutting plans, Chief Operating Officer Terence Mackey said by telephone today.
GCA Savvian Group Corp. (2174 JT), a merger adviser, tumbled 6.7 percent to 89,500 yen. The company said operating profit will fall 43 percent to 2.43 billion yen ($31 million) on a possible drop in sales.
Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (1662 JT), the nation’s second-largest oil explorer, climbed 2.8 percent to 3,650 yen. Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. raised its equity rating to “outperform” from “neutral,” saying natural gas revenue may recover after the March earthquake.
Qol Co. (3034 JQ) advanced 2.7 percent to 52,700 yen. The pharmacy operator said it will conduct a 100-for-1 stock split, adopting minimum trading of 100 shares.
Mazda Motor Corp. (7261 JT), the least profitable of Japan’s biggest carmakers, added 2.6 percent to 161 yen. Shares rose after President Takashi Yamanouchi said Mazda is in discussions about forming an alliance. He declined to name any potential partners.
Olympus Corp. (7733 JT) slipped 2.4 percent to 1,273 yen after three former executives at Olympus, including former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, and four others were arrested in connection with the camera maker’s accounting scandal.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501 JT) gained 3.8 percent to 217 yen. The government may allow utilities to restart nuclear power plants halted for inspections as the country reduces imports of Iranian oil, the Asahi newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. Tohoku Electric Power Co. (9506 JT) rose 1.6 percent to 942 yen.
Unipres Corp. (5949 JT) slumped 4.4 percent to 2,290 yen. Nomura Holdings Inc. lowered its investment rating on the autoparts company to “neutral” from “buy” on lower domestic earnings.