March 6, 2019 / 7:37 AM / 4 months ago

Nikkei ends lower, but retail investors snap up defence stocks

* Retail investors buy defence shares

* Kura tumbles after quarterly profit disappoints

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei retreated further from three-month highs on Wednesday after a weak tone in U.S. shares, while retail investors pounced on reports that North Korea had restored part of a missile launch site to buy small defence-related firms.

The Nikkei share average shed 0.6 percent to 21,596.81, with support seen at its 25-day moving average around 21,177.

The Nikkei had traded at a three-month high earlier this week, but analysts said investors were now taking profit in the absence of any fresh catalysts to buy.

Concerns over U.S.-China trade issues continued to hang over the market after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump would reject a trade deal that was not perfect, but the United States would still keep working on an agreement.

“The market’s mood has been up and down based on developments in trade talks, but now most people are tired of chasing headlines,” said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

“Stocks have recovered on a weak yen and a surge in U.S. stocks, but the market may take a pause for now.”

The broader Topix declined 0.25 percent to 1,615.25. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,291 to 737.

Kura Corp tumbled 9.3 percent after the sushi restaurant chain reported a 29 percent drop in its November-January net profit, hit by mounting costs related to opening overseas outlets.

Conversely, defence stocks were in the spotlight with retail investors pushing them higher after South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency and two U.S. think tanks reported that North Korea had restored part of a missile launch site it had previously started dismantling.

Defence equipment manufacturer Ishikawa Seisakusho climbed 6 percent, firearms maker Howa Machinery rose 5.4 percent and Hosoya Pyro-Engineering, which sells pyrotechnics, soared 9.9 percent.

Sanrio gained 7.3 percent in heavy trade after the producer of “Hello Kitty” goods said it would tie up with a Hollywood film maker. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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