July 31, 2020 / 3:38 AM / 14 days ago

Nikkei drops as yen firms on dismal U.S. economic data; Advantest slumps

TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - Japanese shares dropped on Friday as the safe-haven yen strengthened on dismal U.S. economic data, while semi-conductor maker Advantest plunged on weak earnings to lead the largest percentage losses in the index.

The Nikkei share average fell 1.87% to 21,920.98 by the midday break, while the broader Topix lost 1.8% to 1,511.82.

All but one of the 33 sector sub-indexes traded in the red, with rubber products, paper and pulp and metal products leading the declines.

Data on Thursday showed that the U.S. economy contracted by 32.9% in the second quarter, the deepest decline since the Great Depression.

In a separate report, the U.S. Labor Department data indicated that jobless claims increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 1.434 million in the week ending July 25.

Worries over a delay in economic recovery kept the U.S. dollar under pressure, falling as low as 104.20 in Asia trade.

Further dampening the sentiment were a slew of weak corporate earnings, with Advantest plunging 14.93% at a daily-limit low, after the semi-conductor firm announced a 23.3% drop in its operating profit forecast for the year through March.

Panasonic Corp dropped 12.66% after the company said it expects annual profit to halve this financial year.

Komatsu Ltd fell 8.19% as the construction equipment maker forecast its operating profit to plunge this fiscal year.

Oriental Land lost 1.28% after the firm logged a net loss of 24.87 billion yen for April-June quarter.

Among gainers, SoftBank-backed online fashion retailer Zozo Inc was last untraded with glut of buy orders, at a daily-limit high after strong earnings. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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