Nikkei tumbles on weak U.S. GDP, earnings disappointment

miércoles 29 de abril de 2015 22:36 GYT
 

* Speculators lock in gains after market's rally
    * Soft U.S. data, fall in European shares trigger selling
    * Honda, NTT Docomo, Oriental Land hit by earning
disappointment

    By Hideyuki Sano
    TOKYO, April 30 (Reuters) - Japanese shares tumbled on
Thursday as traders locked in profits from recent gains,
discouraged by weak U.S. growth figures, a retreat in overseas
shares and disappointing earnings from Honda Motor and
a few other companies.
    The Nikkei share average fell 1.9 percent to
19.673.52 points while the broader Topix index shed 1.9 percent
to 1,597.04. If those losses are sustained until the close, it
would mark the indexes' biggest daily fall since early January.
    "Hedge funds bought Japanese stock futures in February and
March but they are unwinding their positions globally, such as
buying in European shares and selling in the euro. Their selling
should be considered in this context," said Norihiro Fujito,
senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
Securities.
    "Their unwinding is unlikely to end in a day or two," he
added.
    Japanese shares have attracted investors so far this year
due to a number of factors including monetary stimulus in Japan
and Europe as well as hopes for solid growth in Japanese
corporate earnings and higher shareholder returns.
    As a result, the Topix has risen more than 10 percent so far
this year, outperforming U.S. markets and posting the second
biggest gains in Asia after China.
    But surprisingly soft U.S. GDP data provided players with
reasons to lock in gains for now, given the picture for the
Japanese economy rests on the assumption that all is well with
the U.S. economy, Japan's biggest export market. 
    "The outlook for the U.S. economy and monetary policy looks
uncertain. Even considering that bad weather and port strikes in
the West Coast played a role, it is questionable if the U.S.
growth is strong enough to allow a rate hike even by the end of
year," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex
Securities.
    Indeed, the U.S. Federal Reserve downgraded its view of the
U.S. labour market and economy on Wednesday, though it dropped
few hints on the timing of the liftoff, or its first rate hike.
 
    Earnings from Japanese companies also failed to live up to
investors' expectations.
    Honda Motor fell 6.4 percent after it forecast only
a scant 0.4 percent rise in net profit for the current financial
year to March. 
    NTT Docomo dropped 6.3 percent as its profit
guidance - of 6.4 percent operating profit growth in 2015/16 -
failed to excite investors.
    Some domestic-demand oriented companies, major driver of
this year's rally, also saw sharp falls after earnings.
    Oriental Land, the operator of Tokyo Disney Land,
fell 4.4 percent, while Yamazaki Baking fell 10.1
percent.
    Takeda Pharmaceutical, Japan's biggest drugmaker by
market cap, dropped 3.0 percent after it reported its first
annual loss in history to take charges for settlement costs of a
lawsuit related to its diabetes drugs in the United States. 
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 fell 1.9 percent to
14,493.48. 

 (Editing by Kim Coghill)