TOKYO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell on Thursday as weak oil prices continued to batter shares of energy companies and as an overnight strengthening of the yen against the dollar hurt sentiment.
The Nikkei share average briefly touched a 5-week low before recovering some ground. It was down 1.2 percent at 19,064.80 points by late morning.
“At the moment people are assuming that oil is a barometer of global trade and they worry that falling oil prices mean there is no demand,” said Nicholas Smith, a strategist at CLSA.
“But all other concerns pale in significance to next week’s Fed meeting. The trouble with this recent volatility is it makes it harder to work out sentiment surrounding a possible rate hike.”
The yen hit a one-month high against the U.S. dollar overnight, hurting major exporters and others that rely on yen weakness. Panasonic Corp shares fell 1.4 percent to a 1-1/2 month low during the morning session, while Nissan Motor Co Ltd slipped as much as 2.1 percent to a 5-1/2 week low.
Bridgestone Motor Corp shares fell 1.9 percent after U.S. auto parts retailer Pep Boys rebuffed the tire maker’s bid to buy the company in favor of a proposal from Carl Icahn.
Department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings tumbled as much as 4.6 percent to a 10-month low after Nomura Securities cut its rating to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy.’
Toshiba Corp shares bucked the weakness, gaining 1.9 percent by late morning after the Nikkei business daily reported the company was on the verge of selling its TV businesses in some countries.
The broader Topix slipped 0.9 percent to 1,542.29 late in the morning session, with all but four of its 33 subindexes in negative territory.
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.9 percent to 13,872.30 as the morning session neared its close.
Reporting by Joshua Hunt; Editing by Kim Coghill