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Nikkei edges up as Fast Retailing jumps; Yaskawa's earnings drag on machinery stocks

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07/12/2019 | 02:43am EDT
A man stands in front of an electronic board showing the Nikkei stock index outside a brokerage in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei edged higher in choppy trade on Friday, helped by index heavyweight Fast Retailing, but weak profits from some firms such as Yaskawa Electric dragged on machinery stocks.

In afternoon trade, virtual currency exchange operator Remixpoint Inc started tumbling and ended 19% lower after saying it had detected an improper leak of virtual currency worth around 3.5 billion yen.

The Nikkei share average <.N225> ended 0.2% higher at 21,685.90 points. For the week, it fell 0.3%, its first such drop in six weeks.

Fast Retailing jumped 3.2% and contributed a hefty 79 points to the Nikkei. The operator of Uniqlo clothing stores posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly profit, but said full-year results were on track to reach a record high.

However, the broader Topix shed 0.2% to 1,576.31. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,356 to 703.

As Japanese markets will be closed for a holiday on Monday, investors refrained from taking large positions, analysts said.

They said that the market will likely focus on quarterly earnings results from U.S. and Japanese companies next week.

On Thursday, Yaskawa Electric, a motion control equipment maker with exposure in China, kicked off the earnings season and reported a 58% fall in its operating profit for the March-May quarter. That caused its stock price to fall 3.9% on Friday. Yaskawa's results are monitored closely by investors as the firm is seen as an indicator of Chinese demand.

"As the market has already priced in a U.S. rate cut this month and there are few other major macro events in the near future, the next focus is whether there are further U.S. rate cuts for the rest of the year," said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Takahashi said investors are keen for clues on business sentiment and will look to company earnings for direction.

Yaskawa's weak results took a toll on other machinery stocks. Fanuc Corp dropped 2%, Keyence Corp shed 1.5% and SMC Corp sank 2.4%.

Convenience store Lawson Inc jumped 4.6% after its first-quarter operating profit rose 12.4%, thanks to strong sales from upscale supermarket chain Seijo Ishii Co which Lawson had acquired.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

By Ayai Tomisawa

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
FANUC CORP 2.30% 18875 End-of-day quote.17.42%
FAST RETAILING CO LTD -0.35% 68440 End-of-day quote.26.51%
KEYENCE CORPORATION -0.97% 65240 End-of-day quote.22.04%
LAWSON INC 2.10% 5360 End-of-day quote.-21.06%
NIKKEI 225 -0.23% 21416.79 Real-time Quote.5.15%
REMIXPOINT, INC. -3.60% 268 End-of-day quote.-29.66%
SMC CORP 3.77% 40470 End-of-day quote.25.49%
YASKAWA ELECTRIC CORP 3.35% 3550 End-of-day quote.38.51%
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