Nikkei falls more than 1 pct on Ukraine, pension fund selling

miércoles 26 de marzo de 2014 22:25 GYT

* Renewed anxiety on Ukraine, yen gains spur selling in
    * Japanese pension funds seen selling ahead of fiscal
    * Bulls see Nikkei likely supported around Feb low
    * Trading houses, brokerages down sharply
    * Toyota gains on share buyback plan

    By Hideyuki Sano and Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, March 27 (Reuters) - Japanese shares fell more than
one percent on Thursday, hit by renewed anxiety over the crisis
in Ukraine and pressured by Japanese pension fund selling ahead
of the financial year-end next week.
    The Nikkei share average fell 1.4 percent to
14,268.28, closing in on this month's low of 14,203.21, marked
on March 17, though about half of the losses were due to the
effect of many shares going ex-dividend.
    The news that the United States and the European Union had
agreed to work together to prepare possible tougher economic
sanctions on Russia undermined risk appetite. 
    As a result, Wall Street shares dipped from near record
levels and the yen also strengthened to a one-week high, which
both weighed on Tokyo shares.
    In addition, Japanese stocks have been underperforming since
the start of this year because investors also grew impatient
about the lack of progress in structural reforms after massive
fiscal and monetary stimulus last year. 
    "The international situation, the yen's rise and fatigue
over Abenomics are all putting pressure," said a fund manager at
a Japanese asset management firm.
    "But I think the market will likely be supported around
current levels," he added, noting that most investors expect the
Ukraine crisis to gradually ease and Japanese corporate profits
to grow further in the next financial year from April.
    Bulls regard levels around a four-month low just under
14,000 hit in early February as strong support, on the grounds
that the Nikkei's P/E would be below 14 around that level.
    "The impact of geopolitical risks normally does not last
long. I think the market will be supported around recent lows
given the valuation," said Ryota Sakagami, chief equity
strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.
    Many market players also said some selling likely came from
Japanese pension funds, which need to cash out part of their
assets at the end of the financial year on March 31.
    Stocks offering high dividends or other shareholder benefits
dropped sharply as many of them went ex-dividend on Thursday.
    The securities sector fell 2.9 percent and the
wholesale sector, which include high-dividend-paying trading
houses, dropped 2.7 percent to become the worst two
performers of the Topix's 33 sectors.
    Among trading houses, Itochu Corp led, falling 5.7
percent in heavy trade.
    Toyota Motor bucked the trend by eking out a 0.1
percent gain after the carmaker announced a share buyback on
    The broader Topix shed 1.4 percent to 1,155.77 in
moderate trade, with trading volume at 37.5 percent of the full
daily average for the past 90 days.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a recently introduced
gauge comprised of companies with a high return on equity and
robust corporate governance, also dipped 1.4 percent to

 (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)