Japan stocks fall as investors pocket gains from a year-long rally

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Japan stocks fall as investors pocket gains from a year-long rally
Credit: © Reuters.

By Stanley White

TOKYO, March 2 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell on Tuesday, giving up early gains as some investors booked profits on defensive energy and utility shares before the end of the fiscal year this month.

The Nikkei 225 Index .N225 fell 0.22% to 29,598.56 by 0153 GMT, while the broader Topix .TOPX declined by 0.46% to 1,893.64.

The benchmark Nikkei jumped 2.4% on Monday as signs of a massive sell-off in U.S. Treasuries coming to an end gave a boost to riskier assets, but equity gains quickly fizzled out on Tuesday.

Japanese investors will close their books as their fiscal year ends on the last day of March and many market participants are looking to take profits on the Nikkei's 87% rally in the past year to a more than three-decade high.

"I don't expect stocks to enter a downtrend, but we have risen so far that it will take at least a month for the markets to consolidate," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co.

"The Nikkei could move sideways this month because it is right before the end of the fiscal year, but it is possible markets will break out next month."

The largest percentage decliners in Nikkei were Z Holdings Corp 4689.T down 4.29%, followed by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd 9104.T losing 3.59% and Pacific Metals Co Ltd 5541.T down by 3.47%.

The largest percentage gainers were Tokai Carbon Co Ltd 5301.T up 4.06%, followed by Haseko Corp 1808.T gaining 2.65%, and Hitachi Zosen Corp 7004.T up by 2.65%.

There were 66 advancers on the Nikkei index against 153 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board .TOPX was 0.55 billion, compared to the average of 1.33 billion in the past 30 days.

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