Nikkei falls as investors pocket quick gains on Softbank
* Nikkei heavyweight Softbank falls on profit-taking after Alibaba * Hedge funds lock in gains after massive buying late last week * Broader market firmer, Topix still near 6-year high * Banks and insurers rise * Mitsubishi Motor up after tie-up with Fiat By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average dropped on Monday as investors booked gains in heavyweight Softbank after the listing of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , but the broader market held firm near six-year high. The Nikkei declined 0.5 percent to 16,236.60, with a 4.1 percent slide in Softbank shares accounting for about a half of the benchmark's fall. Softbank, which holds a 32 percent stake in Alibaba, had surged 30 percent over the past six weeks in anticipation of the Chinese e-commerce company's listing in the New York Stock Exchange. Alibaba shares rose as high as $99.70 on Friday on the first of day of trade after its initial public offering priced at $68 a share. "A lot of people are closing their positions on Softbank now," said a fund manger at a Japanese asset management. Hedge funds that have bought the Nikkei futures aggressively in the last two days on the fall in the yen also appeared to be taking a breather as the Japanese currency bounced back from six-year lows hit on Friday. Buying Nikkei futures and selling the yen was one of the most profitable strategies in 2013, when investors cheered Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive steps to boost the economy. After a hiatus lasting several months this year, some hedge funds have started to dabble in the same trading strategy after the yen broke below a long-held support around 105 yen. "Hedge funds' trading are driven by the yen," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. He said the focus will be on whether Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's view that the yen's weakening is 'natural' would have to be toned down in the future, especially as some policymakers and business executives have raised concerns about the excessive fall in the currency. The broader market was firmer, with the Topix little changed at 1,332.40, sticking to a six-year high hit on Friday, while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was also flat at 12,088.01. Insurance companies and banks were among outperformers, with the Tokyo Stock Exchange's insurance industry subindex rising 0.8 percent and banks subindex 0.7 percent. Tokio Marine Holdings Inc rose 2.0 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group climbed 1.4 percent. The uptick in U.S. bond yields have raised hopes for more income for banks and insurers. Mitsubishi Motor gained 4.4 percent after the automaker teamed up with Fiat in a deal to produce a new pickup for the Italian carmaker from 2016, and raise output at the Japanese company's plant in Thailand. Mitsubishi Materials Corp rose 1.7 percent after a media report said the company is hammering out a deal to buy Hitachi Tool Engineering, a subsidiary of Hitachi. (Editing Shri Navaratnam)
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