February 22, 2017 / 2:28 AM / a year ago

Nikkei edges down due to pause in yen decline

* Topix hits more than 1-year high before edging lower

* Toshiba jumps after report on chip business’ higher value

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks edged down on Wednesday morning in choppy trade as a pause in the dollar’s rise against the yen kept investors on the sidelines as they awaited the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest meeting for clues for interest rate hikes.

The Nikkei dropped 0.2 percent at 19,345.31 in midmorning trade after staying nearly flat.

Meanwhile, the broader Topix was down 0.1 percent after hitting as high as 1,559.51 points at the open, the highest level since December 2015.

Analysts said that Japanese market’s upside should be limited as there appeared to be a respite in the yen’s weaker trend, leaving investors to look for other catalysts.

In Asian trade, the dollar was 0.2 percent lower at 113.52 yen, edging away from its peak of 114.955 yen touched a week ago, which was its highest since late January.

“If the dollar strengthens against the yen and stays above the 114 level, investors will likely chase the market higher,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 0.1 percent, Honda Motor Co rising 1.0 percent and Panasonic Corp gaining 0.5 percent.

Rakuten Inc surged 11 percent after it said it will buy back up to 8.4 percent of its own shares, worth 100 billion yen ($881.60 million).

Meanwhile, Toshiba Corp jumped 12 percent after the Nikkei reported that the company has asked potential bidders for its memory chip business to peg the operations’ value at 2 trillion yen or more.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.2 percent to 13,939.11.

Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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