* Exporters, financials down
* Trading houses bought on the dips
* Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal jump, to cut capacity
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, March 12 Japan's Nikkei share average
fell on Tuesday, snapping an eight-day winning streak, as
investors took profits on recent gainers such as financials and
The Nikkei closed down 0.3 percent at 12,314.81
points after earlier rising as high as 12,461.97, its strongest
level since early September 2008.
Weakness in the yen boosted the Nikkei in early trade, but
it later surrendered those gains as signs of overheating began
The benchmark had risen more than 8 percent over the past
eight sessions through Monday, its longest winning streak since
July 2009 and putting it in technically overbought territory.
"Some stocks' prices have doubled over the past months ...
profit-taking is natural at this point," said Fujio Ando, senior
managing director at Chibagin Securities.
Exporters and financials lost ground, with Toyota Motor Corp
falling 0.8 percent, Sony Corp shedding 2.0
percent and Toshiba Corp dropping 1.5 percent.
Among financials, Mizuho Financial Group fell 0.9
percent to 213 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group
dropped 1.0 percent.
But analysts said that the Nikkei is still on a rising trend
on hopes for more aggressive policy easing by the central bank,
and while a short-term correction is possible, the index could
head towards 12,500 in the coming month.
"Positive views on the U.S. economy and easing hopes in
Japan are major catalysts, and they haven't changed," said
Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko
BUYING ON THE DIPS
While some analysts point out that the Japanese market is
overheated after the recent rally, some investors have waited to
scoop up such laggards as trading houses.
The wholesales subindex was one of the gainers on
the board, with Marubeni Corp rising 1.0 percent and
Mitsubishi Corp gaining 1.2 percent.
"Stocks that have fallen behind the overall rises attracted
buying today," said Eiji Kinouchi, senior strategist at Daiwa
Among Tuesday's gainers, shares in drilling companies also
jumped after news that a government-led team has successfully
extracted methane hydrate gas from the seabed for the first time
in the world, off the coast of Japan.
Japan Drilling Co Ltd shot up 18.3 percent and Modec
Inc jumped 7.1 percent.
"Retail investors showed interest in these shares, but those
gains will probably fade soon as their bottom lines won't
dramatically rise just because of the news," Chibagin's Ando
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp surged 4.4
percent after the company said it would halt operations at a
blast furnace at a major steel mill in a bid to cut costs and
resolve overcapacity. The share rise helped the steel subindex
become the top sectoral gainer, gaining 2.0 percent.