Nikkei slips on weak economic data; Sumitomo dives after profit warning
* Economic data, Hong Kong unrest weigh * Sumitomo's sharp decline hammers other trading houses * For the month, Nikkei is up 4.8 pct By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell on Tuesday morning as a one-two punch of weak economic data and a profit warning from Sumitomo Corp depressed sentiment. Investors were already on the back foot before the start of trading as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong dented risk appetite in global markets. The early spotlight fell on Sumitomo Corp, which nosedived 13 percent after it slashed its annual profit forecast by 96 percent due to losses on a U.S. shale project and sharp declines in iron ore and coal prices. Sumitomo's woes weighed on other trading houses and steelmakers. The Nikkei share average fell 0.9 percent to 16,170.70 in mid-morning trade after rising 0.5 percent on Monday. The benchmark is still up 4.8 percent for the month helped by the weakening yen and improving momentum in the U.S. economy. Annual household spending in Japan fell for a fifth straight month in August and factory output unexpectedly declined, highlighting the challenges policymakers face to revive an economy reeling under the strain of a sales tax hike. "The result triggered concerns about Japan's growth for the July-September quarter," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist and economist at Mizuho Securities, adding that the weak figures prompted investors to take profit from the recent rally in the Japanese market. On the bright side, activity in China's vast factory sector showed signs of steadying in September as export orders climbed, a private survey showed on Tuesday. Kuramochi said that civil unrest in Hong Kong appears to be sidelining investors. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters blocked Hong Kong streets in the early hours on Tuesday, maintaining pressure on China as it faces one of its biggest political challenges since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago. Trading houses and steelmakers led the declines, with Itochu Corp falling 3.8 percent, Marubeni Corp dropping 4.0 percent, and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp shedding 1.8 percent. Exporters, which gained in recent days, were also pressured. Toyota Motor Corp fell 1.2 percent, Honda Motor Co was off 1.1 percent and Canon Inc declined 1.0 percent. The broader Topix fell 1.0 percent to 1,323.58, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 slid 1.1 percent to 12,031.32. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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