(corrects day of week in lead and to show it hit intra-day high
on Wednesday, not closing high, in second paragraph)
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO Dec 22 Japanese stocks edged down from
one-year highs on Thursday as investors took profit from recent
gainers such as financials in otherwise thinning trade ahead of
the holiday season.
The Nikkei share average dropped 19,391.51, down 0.3
percent on Wednesday, when it hit one-year highs.
"Trading volume is falling with many foreign players going
away ahead of the Christmas. And without them, there are few
players who are ready to chase the market higher. So it is
natural to see some retreat," said Masahiro Ayukai, senior
investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
Still, the Nikkei has risen almost 18 percent so far this
quarter as expectations of higher U.S. growth and inflation
under the incoming U.S. President Donald Trump have driven down
the yen, boosting Corporate Japan's earnings prospects.
Data from the Ministry of Finance showed foreign investors
have been net buyers of Japanese stocks last week for the sixth
Investors took profits in financials, which had risen
sharply thanks to gains in global bond yields since Trump
election win last month.
Bank shares fell 1.7 percent, with Mitsubishi UFJ
Financial Group down 1.9 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui
Financial Group slipping 1.8 percent. Insurers
also dropped 1.2 percent.
Banks were also not helped by concerns over the darkening
outlook of ailing Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's
third largest lender.
On the other hand, many exporters shares were supported as
the yen remained relatively close to its 10-1/2-month low
against the dollar hit last week. It last stood at 117.60 per
dollar, compared to last week's low of 118.66.
The broader Topix dropped 0.3 percent to 1,539.97
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 eased 0.3 percent to
The index of Tokyo Stock Exchange's mostly small-cap second
section shares also dropped after having risen above
their 2015 peak to hit highest level since 2006 the previous
(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)