Nikkei down as drugmakers, food firms retreat; Sharp gains on restructuring hopes

miércoles 15 de abril de 2015 22:21 GYT
 

* Sharp rises to 4-month high on restructuring hopes
    * Oil shares soar after oil prices rallied

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, April 16 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks slipped to more
than a one-week low on Thursday morning as investors cut back on
some recent outperformers including food companies and
drugmakers, while Sharp Corp surged on restructuring
hopes.
    Sharp rallied as much as 4.2 percent to a four-month high
after a source said it and its main banks are to meet on
Thursday to agree on a nearly $2 billion rescue for the
loss-making electronics firm. 
    The Nikkei 225 dropped 0.5 percent to 19,761.53 in
midmorning trade after hitting a low of 19,751.05, the weakest
level since April 8. The benchmark has been slowly receding from
the psychologically important 20,000-mark hit last Friday.
    Rising oil prices lifted oil and mining stocks, with Inpex
Corp soaring 3.6 percent, Japan Petroleum Exploration
 gaining 2.1 percent and JX Holdings advancing
3.1 percent.
    Oil prices rallied and U.S. crude jumped nearly 6 percent to
a 2015 peak on Wednesday after government data showed crude oil
inventories in the United States rose less than expected last
week. 
    Airline shares, which are beneficiaries of lower oil prices,
underperformed. Japan Airlines dropped 2.7 percent and
ANA Holdings shed 0.9 percent.
    "It's sector rotation. Investors are unwinding their 'cheap
oil' positions," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho
Securities.
    Among losers were defensive stocks such as food companies
and drugmakers, which Kuramochi said have rallied in recent
months partly on 'smart beta' investing by pension funds.
    Smart beta indexes are rule-based indexes designed to
provide focused exposure to specific factors such as low
volatility stocks.
    Market observers said that long-term investors such as
pension funds, keen to avoid volatility, have taken to smart
beta indexes. 
    The food sector, which has soared 18 percent this
year, is down 0.5 percent while the pharmaceutical sector
, up 22 percent this year, shed 1.1 percent. 
    Soy sauce maker Kikkoman Corp fell 2.2 percent
after rising 27 percent this year, while Takeda Pharmaceutical
Co dropped 1.0 percent after rallying 19 percent.
    Over the same period, the Nikkei has risen 13 percent.
    The broader Topix dropped 0.3 percent to 1,583.62,
and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.4 percent to
14,352.70.

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)