Nikkei retreats from 7-1/2-yr high as yen bounces, Sony hit by cyberattack
* Profit-taking sets in after 7 straight days of gains * Large-cap exporters lead losses as yen rebounds * Sony down on cyber attack concerns * Hopes of Abe's election victory, BOJ buying support market By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average stepped back from 7-1/2-year highs on Tuesday, as a retreat on Wall Street and a rebound in the yen prompted investors to book gains after a seven-session winning streak. On the whole, market players remained bullish, expecting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to win a weekend re-election bid that will give him a fresh mandate to continue with the government's pro-growth policies. The Nikkei share average fell 0.5 percent to 17,839.17 , after having risen 4.0 percent in the previous seven sessions. U.S. S&P 500 posted its biggest daily percentage drop in a month and a half on Monday on fall in energy stocks as well as soft Chinese trade data. The yen rose to around 120.90 to the dollar from a low of 121.86 hit on Monday, prompting profit-taking in exporters shares. Panasonic fell 2.1 percent while Komatsu dropped 2.2 percent. Sony shares fell 3.1 percent after a group that claimed to be responsible for the massive computer hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment demanded that the company cancel the release of "The Interview," a comedy that depicts an assassination plot against North Korea's leader. Still, with the yen more than 12 percent weaker than just three months ago, likely earnings improvements at Japanese exporters are expected to underpin the market. "The rally has been very rapid. So for the moment the market will likely be consolidating. But the impact of a weaker yen will begin to be reflected in corporate earnings so the market is unlikely to fall much," said Masaki Uchida, executive director at JPMorgan Asset Management. Expectations that Japanese voters will give the thumbs up to Abe's radical reflationary policies in Sunday's election has also buoyed the market's mood. Latest media projections point to the possibilities his coalition may gain more seats to keep its two-thirds majority in parliament's lower house. Many market players are also speculating the Bank of Japan could buy exchange traded funds (ETFs) later in the session. The BOJ bought ETFs in the last two sessions as a part of its programme to purchase 3 trillion yen of ETFs a year. The broader Topix fell 0.4 percent while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also dropped 0.4 percent. Bucking the trend, Takata shares rose 4.4 percent after a media report that Honda Motor may support the auto parts firm. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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