* Volume may stall due to upcoming Christmas holidays -
* Defensive stocks outperform
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Dec 19 Japanese stocks fell on Monday
morning, snapping a nine-day rally as a pullback on Wall Street
prompted investors to cash in on outperformers such as exporters
The Nikkei share average shed 0.3 percent to
19,347.62 in midmorning trade after soaring 6.2 percent in the
past nine days, mainly supported by a weak yen as the dollar
rose broadly on expectations of a faster pace of U.S. interest
rate hikes next year.
The Bank of Japan began a two-day policy meeting, at which it
is expected to stand pat on its 10-year government bond yield
target as the weaker yen helps Japan's economic prospects, a
Reuters poll showed on Friday.
Analysts said that trading volume will likely be subdued as
foreign investors head off on Christmas holidays this week.
"There might be some profit-taking this week. But I don't
expect sharp selling because the mood is still supported by
hopes for U.S. economic growth and better Japanese corporate
earnings," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, an equity strategist at
Japanese stocks have soared in the past month or so thanks
to a turbo-charged dollar, which gained against the yen on
expectations U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will boost fiscal
spending, growth and inflation.
Takahashi said that when the dollar strengthens by 1 yen,
Japan Inc's pretax profit will be pushed up by 0.6 percent.
Bellwether exporters and financials took a breather from
their recent outsized gains, with Honda Motor Co
shedding 0.5 percent, Panasonic Corp dropping 0.7
percent and Nintendo Co tumbling 4.8 percent.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group slipped 1.1 percent
and Mizuho Financial Group declined 1.0 percent.
Defensive and domestic-demand-sensitive stocks outperformed.
Drugmakers Takeda Pharmaceutical rose 0.8 percent and
Astellas Pharma gained 1.6 percent. Kikkoman Corp
rose 0.1 percent and Ajinomoto Co added 0.8
The broader Topix dropped 0.3 percent to 1,545.50
and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.3 percent to
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)