Nikkei tumbles as semi-conductor shares take hit

miércoles 25 de marzo de 2015 22:34 GYT
 

* Semi-conductor sector leads losses
    * Weak U.S. durable goods orders hit risk sentiment
    * Market cautious on developments in Yemen; oil firms gain
    * Many investors remain optimistic over Japan's economic
outlook

    By Hideyuki Sano
    TOKYO, March 26 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
dropped on Thursday as investors sold semi-conductor and other
hi-tech shares after their U.S. peers were sold off sharply
following soft U.S. economic data.
    Oil-related shares bucked the trend and rose 1.0 percent
 as oil prices firmed after Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab
countries launched military operations in Yemen to beat back
Shi'ite militia forces. 
    The Nikkei fell 1.3 percent to 19,485.51, turning
negative on the week and slipping from a 15-year high of
19.778.60 touched on Monday.
    Leading the losses were semi-conductor shares, with Sumco
 falling 5.7 percent and Tokyo Electron 5.2
percent in reaction to heavy losses in U.S. semiconductor shares
.
    Other high-tech shares also fell, with Fujitsu 
shedding 3.9 percent and Sony dropping 2.9 percent.
    The broader Topix fell 1.7 percent and the
JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also dropped 1.7 percent.
    Data showing spending on U.S. durable goods fell for a sixth
straight month in February weighed on sentiment, as exports to
the United States have been one of the brightest spots for the
Japanese economy.
    The news of military intervention in Yemen by a Saudi-led
coalition could hurt risk appetite, some market players said,
although it has so far had limited impact, apart from boosting
oil company shares.
    "It is becoming like a proxy war between Sunnis and Shi'ites
so it is a source of concern ... Given the weakness in U.S.
share markets overnight, this might be used as a reason to sell
shares," said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment analyst at
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    Some analysts noted signs that foreign speculators such as
hedge funds were starting to sell Japanese shares, which have
outperformed many markets this quarter.
    "Those agile players are starting to take profits. That is a
change you need to pay attention to. When they start to sell,
they could sell 2-3 trillion yen and bring down the Nikkei by
2,000 points," Fujito said.
    On the whole, however, market players say the mood is
resilient after 11 percent gains in the Nikkei this quarter,
which would be the biggest quarterly rise since late 2013 if
sustained.
    The market has been supported by hopes of buying from
Japanese public investors, such as the Government Pension
Investment Fund, which have been allocating more money to stocks
under the auspices of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
    Hopes that a rise in wages could boost long-dormant domestic
consumption are underpinning the market.
    "The big change is that until fairly recently, a lot of
foreign investors were very sceptical about Abenomics and about
the Japanese macroeconomic situation," said Richard Dingemans,
CEO at Pelargos Capital, based in The Hague, the Netherlands.
    "But with a bit more lasting impact of Abenomics, and also
the push from Abe-san himself for better corporate governance,
increasing the returns of companies, companies are getting more
profitable and that will also enable them to pay higher wages,"
he said.

 (Editing by Alan Raybould)