Nikkei slips ahead of U.S. job data, Sony falls after earning cut
* Buying loses steam near resistance at 14,500-14,600 * Dwindling expectation of BOJ easing caps market * Sony falls after dismal earnings * IHI gains after Third Point takes position By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, May 2 (Reuters) - Japanese shares stepped back on Friday, with Sony Corp. falling after a profit warning and as investors took a cautious stance ahead of a closely-watched U.S. employment report later in the day. The Nikkei share average ticked down 0.3 percent to 14,446.28, halting a recovery from Monday's low of 14,224.47. An initial resistance is seen at around 14,500, which is the 25-day moving average. Another resistance, Ichimoku cloud bottom, also comes in around 14,600. Investors were waiting on the U.S. April jobs report later in the global session for signs the recent dismal first quarter GDP report was merely a blip before a rebound. The data is expected to show employment rose at its fastest clip in five months according to a Reuters survey of economists. [D:L2N0NL1EX] Sony Corp was in the spotlight, dropping 2.3 percent, a day after it slashed its operating profit estimate by nearly 70 percent for the financial year ended March 31, saying it expects its exit from PCs to add nearly $300 million in extra costs as it struggles to stem losses on electronics. On the other hand, IHI Corp jumped 4.9 percent to 428 yen after billionaire investor Daniel Loeb said his $14.3 billion Third Point hedge fund took a position in the Japanese heavy machinery manufacturer. Loeb said the company is worth more than its 1,000 yen share price and that earnings could be boosted if the company focused more on "high return segments," moving away from its "suboptimal conglomerate structure of the past." Concerns about slowing growth has depressed the Nikkei this year, which has underperformed many major markets after a record-breaking rally of over 50 percent in 2013 thanks to Tokyo's aggressive stimulus policies. Dwindling expectations of fresh stimulus by the Bank of Japan have also weighed on sentiment, as Governor Kuroda has repeatedly insisted in recent weeks that the economy can weather the impact of the sales tax hike that took effect last month. "The BOJ's easing looks so distant now. I would think it's unlikely to take place this year," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. "That is why the market's turnover last month fell to about a half of its peak seen in May last year. The market's energy has eased," he added. Trading volume was low on Friday, with Golden Week holidays in Japan shutting markets until Tuesday. London will be closed on Monday as well. Much of the trade lacked conviction. Among big cap shares, Toyota fell 0.5 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 0.9 percent. The broader Topix fell 0.1 percent to 1,181.05 while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dipped 0.1 percent to 10,734.12. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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