Nikkei retreats from 4-yr high; Nikon sags, Mazda shines

Thu Feb 7, 2013 7:55am GMT

* TOPIX trading volume second heaviest on record
    * Nikon sinks on sharp profit outlook cut
    * Mazda bucks trend after raising full-year forecast
    * Sony rise on hopes for strong results

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Japanese shares came off a more
than four-year high on Thursday as investors booked profits,
with Nikon Corp sinking 19 percent after it lowered its
annual earnings forecast.
    A pause in the yen's depreciation and caution ahead of a
European Central Bank meeting also helped drive the benchmark
Nikkei average 0.9 percent lower. The ECB is to hold a
policy meeting later in the day that could impact the currency
market. 
    The Nikkei closed at 11,357.07, retreating from a high of
11,498.42 struck on Wednesday. Trading volume stood at 4.04
billion shares, marking the highest level since March 15, 2011.
    Shares of Sony Corp advanced ahead of its quarterly
results while Mazda Motor Corp rose on better full-year
earnings guidance.
    The broader Topix was flat at 969.18 in heavy trade,
with 5.14 billion shares changing hands, its second highest on
the record.
    "Investors are taking profits on recent gainers but at the
same time, some of them are buying on dips on hopes that there
is an upside in a longer term," said Hiroaki Hiwada, a senior
strategist at Toyo Securities.
    The Nikkei has gained 31 percent since mid-November, driven
by the yen weakness after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began
calling for aggressive easing in his election campaign.
    But with investors cautioned against such steep rises in the
market, a correction is widely expected, analysts said.
    "Hopes for 'Abenomics' are supporting the mood, but  
investors are also sensitive to the currency moves, so right
now, even small uncertainty on Europe can be a reason to pull
back," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC
Nikko Securities.
    The yen was quoted at 93.65 to the dollar on Thursday
after hitting a 33-month low of 94.08 yen in the previous
session.
    Nikon was the top weighted loser in the Nikkei and draggged
down the precision machinery sector, which dropped
5.6 percent.
    "Nikon's sharp cut in its outlook startled us ... I'm not
surprised if investors are dumping the stock immediately and
even shorting it as there are better stocks to buy," said
Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset
Management.
        
    MAZDA, SONY OFFER RESPITE
    Bucking the market's overall weakness, Sony gained 2.6
percent on expectations for strong results, which was released
after the market close.
    After the closing bell, the maker of PlayStation and Bravia
TVs posted a third-quarter operating profit after a loss a year
ago, but maintained its full year operating profit forecast of
130 billion yen ($1.4 billion). 
    Among other gainers, Mazda Motor soared 12 percent after the
carmaker raised its operating profit forecast for the year
ending March 31 by 80 percent to 45 billion yen, which would be
its highest since the year ended March 2008. 
    Shares of Mazda, which exports about 80 percent of its cars,
were the most-traded by turnover on the main board.