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Nikkei edges down as strong yen bites but supported by global gains
January 5, 2017 / 2:27 AM / 9 months ago

Nikkei edges down as strong yen bites but supported by global gains

* US jobs data on Friday in focus for clues on US rate outlook

* Takata soars for 4th day on hopes it will settle criminal charges with US

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average edged down on Thursday as a stronger yen hurt some exporters, but the downside was limited as strong U.S. shares supported overall sentiment.

The Nikkei eased 0.1 percent to 19,568.93 points in midmorning trade after flirting with positive territory, while the broader Topix rose 0.2 percent to 1,557.06.

The dollar slipped to 116.63 yen after having peaked at 118.605 on Tuesday as minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s December meeting showed concerns that quicker economic growth under President-elect Donald Trump could require faster interest rate increases.

U.S. stock investors took heart from the minutes, chasing the market higher overnight.

“A U.S. rate hike is positive for Japanese stocks as it is translated (as a sign of) a U.S. economic recovery. Investors cautiously stay focused on the release of U.S. jobs data this Friday,” said Isao Kubo, an equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management.

But he added that as the dollar-yen levels remain the main focus in the Japanese market, a rise in the yen can sour sentiment so trading is likely to be subdued throughout the day.

Automakers languished after rising on the previous day. Toyota Motor Corp dropped 0.8 percent and Honda Motor Co shed 0.1 percent.

On the other hand, drugmakers attracted buyers. Astellas Pharma rose 1.3 percent, while Shionogi & Co gained 2.1 percent.

Takata Corp hit its daily-limit high for a fourth straight day on continued expectations that criminal charges with the U.S. Department of Justice on its defective airbags may settle this month.

It later pared gains and was up 1.7 percent by late morning.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.2 percent to 13,966.58. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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