Nikkei eases on profit-taking; Sharp dives as it seeks aid

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Nikkei eases on profit-taking; Sharp dives as it seeks aid
Credit: © Reuters.

* Sharp dives to 3-week low

* Chip-related shares outperform after Nasdaq rises

* Nikkei futures snap a 13-day winning streak

* Regional banks lower after CLSA cuts ratings

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 3 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average fell in choppy trade on Tuesday as investors took profits from the recent gains, but losses were limited as sentiment was supported by strong Wall Street performances.

Sharp Corp 6753.T tumbled as much as 9.8 percent on news that it is planning to seek aid from its main lenders, as it expects losses to mount this year.

A source told Reuters that it is looking to request aid from Mizuho Bank 8411.T and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ 8306.T in a bid to shore up finances needed to restructure. ID:nT9N0VZ00E

The Nikkei .N225 fell 0.3 percent to 18,775.73 points by mid-morning after bouncing between positive and negative territory in early trade. But it remained near 15-year highs.

Meantime, Nikkei futures JNIc1 dropped for the first time in 14 days, implying that there may be profit-taking after the recent rallies.

Tech shares such as semiconductor-equipment makers outperformed after the Nasdaq on Monday closed above 5,000 for the first time since the year 2000 dot-com bubble as tech stocks were boosted by deals.

"Nasdaq's strength implies strong demand in the semiconductor industry so Japanese chip-related shares are in demand," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Index-heavy stocks, Kyocera Corp 6971.T and Tokyo Electron Ltd 8035.T rose 2.1 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, and added a hefty 15 points to the Nikkei index.

But Sato said that due to some technical signs that the market is overbought, profit-taking is possible in the overall market, while investors await more cues such as U.S. jobs data on Friday.

Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T falling 0.6 percent and Honda Motor Co 7267.T rising 0.4 percent.

Some banks languished after their ratings were reduced by a brokerage.

Among those were 77 Bank Ltd 8341.T , which dropped 1.1 percent and Chiba Bank Ltd 8331.T , which shed 1.2 percent after CLSA cut their ratings to "underperform" from "buy," saying that it urged caution on the sector after the recent rally and adding that some of the share prices were close to the brokerage's targets.

The broader Topix .TOPX was flat at 1,524.76 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 .JPXNK400 rose 0.1 percent to 13,848.27.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

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