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Japan:Nikkei drops to near 3-week low

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[TOKYO] Japan's Nikkei share average fell to a near three-week low on Thursday as weakness on Wall Street and a stronger yen hurt sentiment, but Takata Corp surged 16 per cent on news that it could settle US criminal charges over defective air bags.

The Nikkei dropped 1.3 per cent to 19,145.14 points, the lowest closing price since Dec 9. Trading in the Japanese market for 2016 ends on Friday.

The index looked set to end the year with a gain of about 0.6 per cent after a more than 16 per cent rally in the fourth quarter.

Toshiba Corp continued to worry investors, diving 17 per cent after rating agencies cut the company's credit ratings.

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Air bag maker Takata soared 16 per cent after a source told Reuters that it could settle criminal charges with the US Department of Justice before the Obama administration leaves office next month.

The broader Topix declined 1.2 per cent to 1,518.39 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 1.2 per cent to 13,622.00.