March 12, 2014 / 1:51 AM / 5 years ago

Nikkei slides 2 pct on firmer yen, profit-taking on recent rally

* Exporters sag as dollar/yen back in 102-yen zone
    * Volatility eyed amid thin volume before futures settlement
    * Yamato Holdings soars to 8-year high on price hike report

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
slid more than 2 percent on Wednesday as investors locked in
profits after a recent rally to a five-week high, while a
stronger yen hit overall sentiment and dragged down exporters
like Toyota Motor.
    The Nikkei was down 2.2 percent or 328.35 points at
14,895.39 as of 0132 GMT, hitting its lowest since March 6,
after rising 0.7 percent the previous day. It hit a five-week
peak of 15,312.60 last Friday.
    Traders said thin volume may create volatility before the
settlement of Nikkei futures and options on Friday. On Tuesday,
trading volume on the main board was 1.81 billion shares, the
lowest since mid-October.
    "We need to be careful about possible volatility," said
Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset
Management. "Also, the market has more sellers than buyers now
... there were some emotional stock investors yesterday who
expected the central bank to ease, so these people are selling
    As expected, the Bank of Japan on Tuesday maintained its
massive monetary stimulus on the view that economic growth and
consumer price increases remained on track.
    Itoshima said that while bond and foreign exchange traders
had expected there would be no surprises from the BOJ, some
stock market investors had been overly optimistic.
    Among exporters, Toyota Motor Corp dropped 1.7
percent, Honda Motor Co shed 1.8 percent and Nikon Corp
 fell 2.4 percent.
    The dollar fell to 102.97 from Tuesday's high of
    Bucking the weakness, Yamato Holdings soared as
much as 6.7 percent to an eight-year high of 2,334 yen and was
the 11th-most-traded stock by turnover. The Nikkei business
daily reported that the parcel delivery service provider would
increase its shipping fees to corporate clients to cover rising
personnel and fuel costs.
    The broader Topix index shed 1.6 percent to
1,213.05, with all of its 33 subindexes in negative territory.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a gauge comprising
firms with high return on equity and strong corporate
governance, dropped 1.7 percent to 10,968.97.
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