Nikkei drops on weak U.S. data, investors eye earnings next week
* Nikkei had been nearly flat the past four days * AMD's dismal earnings hit chip-related stocks * McDonald's falls to over 7-week low * BOJ bought 36.5 bln yen of ETFs on Thurs By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average dropped on Friday morning after weaker-than-expected U.S. housing data soured the mood, while investors awaited Japanese corporate earnings starting next week. Also dampening sentiment was weakness in Europe shares and concern about Greece's financial woes. At mid-morning, the Nikkei was down 0.5 percent to 19,780.69. The Nikkei traded above the psychological mark of 20,000 last Friday for the first time since April 2000, but the first four days of this week the index barely changed. With the full-year earning season just around the corner, investors await full-year forecasts for the year ending March 2016, which analysts said they expect to be conservative, as usual. Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at Rakuten Securities, said that while his brokerage expects a 15 percent rise in pretax profits, companies will likely forecast a 0-5 percent rise. "Even though investors expect companies to post big profits at the end of the financial year, the Nikkei's moves may be contained in a small range after companies' modest guidance," Kubota said. On Friday, chip-related stocks underperformed after U.S. chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc reported a bigger-than-expected adjusted loss for the first quarter. Advantest Corp tumbled 4.5 percent and Tokyo Electron shed 3.2 percent. McDonald's Holdings Co, the Japanese unit of McDonald's Corp, fell 1.8 percent to a more than seven-week low after it forecast deeper losses this year and said it would renovate 2,000 stores while closing underperforming outlets. Mining shares languished, with Inpex Corp dropping 2.1 percent after oil prices fell, ending a run of rallies earlier in the week, after OPEC said that its output surged in March. Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 1.1 percent, Nissan Motor Co dropping 0.2 percent and Panasonic Corp falling 0.8 percent. Meantime, central bank data showed that it bought 36.5 billion yen worth of exchange traded funds (ETF) on Thursday. The broader Topix dropped 0.2 percent to 1,596.39 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.2 percent to 14,474.08. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)
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