Japan’s Nikkei drops from one-month high as yen strength hurts exporters


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TOKYO — Japan’s Nikkei share average dropped the most in two weeks on Thursday – retreating from a one-month high – as the effects of the Bank of Japan’s decision to not back away from stimulus faded, and a resurgent yen weighed on exporters.

The Nikkei ended the day down 1.44% at 26,468.62, retracing more than half of Wednesday’s 2.5% rally, when the central bank defied bond market pressure and kept policy settings unchanged.

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Japan’s equity benchmark hit a high of 26,816.68 on Wednesday – a level not seen since Dec. 20, the day that the BOJ shocked markets by loosening yield curve controls. Investors had interpreted it as a sign that an exit from decades-old stimulus was coming sooner rather than later.

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The broader Topix slumped 1% to 1,915.62 on Thursday, also giving back the best part of the previous day’s 1.68% rally.

The yen rallied some 0.8% to last trade at 127.885 per dollar, extending its rebound from Wednesday’s knee-jerk low of 131.58 and careening back towards Monday’s seven-month peak at 127.215.

“There will be uncertainty over the monetary policy until we see the government’s nominee for the next BOJ governor,” said Yunosuke Ikeda, chief equity strategist at Nomura.

Current governor Haruhiko Kuroda retires in early April after 10 years at the helm. The government is likely to present its nominee on Feb. 10.

The strong yen of the past several months will also weigh in earnings announcements as the reporting season gets going towards the end of next week, increasing downside risks for stocks, Ikeda added.

Mitsubishi Motors was the Nikkei’s biggest percentage decliner, plunging 5.26%. Toyota dropped 2.36% and Nissan slumped 3.61%.

Other standout decliners included startup investor SoftBank Group, tumbling 3.67%, and Uniqlo store operator Fast Retailing, dropping 1.76%.

Bucking the trend, department store operators surged amid renewed hopes for a tourism rebound as COVID curbs ease. J. Front Retailing was the Nikkei’s top performer, jumping 3.04%. (Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)


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