Japan Stocks Fall as Exporters Drop on Yen; Fishery Shares Jump

Japanese stocks fell as exporters slid on a fourth day of gains for the yen, while a measure of fishery and agricultural companies climbed.

The Topix index lost 0.5 percent to 1,516.19 at the close in Tokyo, extending its decline for the week to 1.4 percent, a fifth straight weekly drop. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.1 percent to 18,769.06 on volume 8.4 percent lower than the 30-day average. The yen strengthened 0.3 percent to 120.11 per dollar after touching the highest since Oct. 28.

“Then yen is back where it was before U.S. interest rates were raised,” said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Tokyo. “The fact that markets aren’t pricing in the next interest rate hike in the U.S. is the biggest factor” for the dollar’s weakness.

Value of shares traded on Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section drops to lowest since last December
Value of shares traded on Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section drops to lowest since last December

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates this month and forecast an appropriate rate of 1.375 percent at the end of next year. Futures markets see a 51 percent chance the Fed will lift rates again by its March meeting, and odds of less than 10 percent policy makers will follow through on their prediction by December 2016.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent on Thursday in a shortened trading session, as energy shares pared their strongest weekly gains since October.

Yearly Gain

Even after five weeks of losses, the Topix is up 7.7 percent in 2015. That compares with a 0.1 percent advance for the S&P 500 and a 6.9 percent gain for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. The Topix trades at 14.8 times estimated earnings, versus 17.5 for the S&P 500 and 16 for the Stoxx Europe 600. The Topix has surged 82 percent since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power at the end of 2012.

Japan’s consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 0.1 percent in November from the previous year, beating estimates for no change, data showed Friday. A measure of inflation that also excludes energy advanced 0.9 percent, while the jobless rate increased to 3.3 percent.

Exporters slid as the stronger yen weighed on their profit outlooks. Toyota Motor Corp. was the second-biggest drag on the Topix, falling 0.8 percent, while Honda Motor Co. slid 0.7 percent.

Banks retreated. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., the largest lender, was the biggest contributor to the Topix’s decline as it fell 1.7 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. slipped 1.5 percent.

A Topix industry group tracking fishery and agricultural companies led gains among the for a second day. Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd. jumped 14 percent after surging 16 percent on Thursday. Sakata Seed Corp. added 2.6 percent.

Jet Delay

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. dropped 4.6 percent after delaying the delivery of its passenger jet by a year. It’s the fourth time the company pushed back the introduction of the jet.

Japan’s public pension fund moved closer to completing along-awaited governance revamp as the health ministry released a plan to install a mostly independent management committee to oversee its investments.

The $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund will establish a 10-person committee consisting of nine outsiders and GPIF’s president, the ministry said in a proposal Friday. The new body will be responsible for decision-making and supervising how the pension fund invests its assets. The aim is to submit a bill to the ordinary session of Japan’s Diet, which usually starts in January.

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