February 23, 2017 / 2:27 AM / a year ago

Nikkei drops led weaker by financials after U.S. yields fall

* Securities, banking 2 worst performers on board

* Yamato soars after report workers union protest

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average fell on Thursday morning as financial stocks weakened after U.S. yields fell on the cautious tone struck in minutes of the latest Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting.

The Nikkei dropped 0.5 percent to 19,290.02 in midmorning trade.

The securities sector and banking sector fell 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, being the two worst performers on the board.

U.S. 10-year yields fell as low as 2.391 percent, their lowest level since Feb. 9.

According to the minutes released on Wednesday, many Fed policymakers said it may be appropriate to raise rates again “fairly soon” should jobs and inflation data come in line with expectations. That cautious tone regarding raising interest rates prompted a fall in U.S. yields.

“Cyclical stocks are sensitive to currency moves and yield levels so investors would avoid them when they are cautious about global events,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities.

Nomura Securities dropped 2.1 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shed 1.2 percent.

Exporters lost ground, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 0.3 percent and Honda Motor Co down 1.5 percent.

The U.S. currency fell to a low of 112.905 yen overnight in a knee-jerk reaction to the Fed meeting minutes but had pulled back to 113.28 early on Thursday.

Meanwhile, transport services company Yamato Holdings jumped 7 pct after the Nikkei reported that the workers union asked the company to restrict the number of delivery packages due to a lack of drivers. It reported that to limit parcel handling, Yamato will negotiate higher shipping costs for internet sellers and other bulk-rate clients.

The broader Topix dropped 0.4 percent to 1,550.79 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.4 percent to 13,907.77.

Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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