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Nikkei snaps 9-day rally, exporters and banks take breather; BOJ in focus
December 19, 2016 / 2:54 AM / a year ago

Nikkei snaps 9-day rally, exporters and banks take breather; BOJ in focus

* Volume may stall due to upcoming Christmas holidays - analysts

* Defensive stocks outperform

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - 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 and banks.

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 Daiwa Securities.

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 percent.

The broader Topix dropped 0.3 percent to 1,545.50 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.3 percent to 13,847.77.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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