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Tokyo: Shares slip 0.18% despite strong Wall St lead


[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks slipped 0.18 per cent Monday as a strong yen offset another record-setting close on Wall Street, while the Japanese earnings season kicks into high gear.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 36.72 points to 19,983.32, less than a week after the benchmark index closed above the psychologically important 20,000 level for the first time in 15 years.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares edged up 0.01 per cent, or 0.23 points, to 1,619.07.

Several hundred Japanese companies are set to report earnings this week, including Sony, Honda, Panasonic and Japan Airlines, with the yen's sharp decline expected to translate into upbeat fiscal-year results for many export-oriented firms.

But the yen picked up Monday after a batch of weak data fuelled doubts about a mid-year US interest rate rise.

The dollar bought 118.96 yen, against 118.99 yen in New York Friday and well off the 119.56 yen earlier Friday in Asia.

Markets are keen to see what the Federal Reserve - which starts a two-day meeting Tuesday - says about the timing of a rate rise after a US government report on durable goods orders raised more questions about the state of the world's top economy.

While the headline number rose 4.0 per cent in March, that was driven by jumps in civilian and military aircraft as well as autos; without them orders fell 0.2 per cent.

Also this week Japan's central bank holds a one-day meeting but policymakers are expected to stand pat on fresh measures, despite signs of weakness in the country's economy "This week we have both the US and Japanese monetary policy meetings, so it'll be difficult to take any definitive position before that," Shoji Hirakawa, chief equity strategist at Okasan Securities, told Bloomberg News.

The release of US quarterly growth figures and Japan's factory output for March are also due this week.

In Tokyo trading, Sony shares slipped 0.26 per cent to 3,729.0 yen on a report that its operating profit would miss estimates.

Automaker Mazda tumbled 2.78 per cent to 2,423.0 yen after a weaker-than-expected profit forecast, while Japan's biggest bank Mitsubishi UFJ slipped 0.66 per cent to 851.1 yen.

Canon rose 0.59 per cent to 4,503.0 yen. After markets closed, the camera and copier maker reported a 29 per cent profit plunge in its latest quarter and cut its earnings forecast for the year.

Tokyo Electron slipped 0.55 per cent to 16.17 yen. After trading finished, US-based Applied Materials announced the cancellation of a multi-billion dollar merger with the Japanese chip and panel giant after US regulators rejected the proposed deal.

In New York the Nasdaq added 0.71 per cent Friday after breaking a 15-year-old record on Thursday, while the S&P 500 rose 0.23 per cent to a new record. The Dow gained 0.12 per cent.