SINGAPORE/TOKYO, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share
average marked its worst week in nearly three months on Friday,
while the benchmark ended flat for the day, pulled down by
concerns over aggressive interest rate hikes globally, with a
weaker yen providing only a smidgen of comfort.
The Nikkei ended 0.04% lower at 27,650.84 and
posted a 3.4% weekly decline, its worst loss since mid-June.
The broader Topix fell 0.27% to 1,930.17, after
touching a six-week low of 1,926.05 earlier in the session. The
index lost 2.5% for this week.
Market expectations for U.S. interest rates have crept
steadily higher - hurting appetite for stocks - since last
week's speech from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, who
reiterated his focus taming inflation above all.
"Many people in the equity markets, including Japan, now
think that the upside is very limited, because of that (hawkish)
stance of the Federal Reserve," said Masayuki Kichikawa, chief
macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.
Technology firms have faced a particular clobbering from the
hawkish rate-hike view, making the sector the largest drag on
the broader market on Friday.
Gaming company Nexon, which touched a six-month low
after reporting quarterly earnings on Thursday, fell 3.06% and
was the biggest drag on the Nikkei.
Shares of Trend Micro slipped 1.68% and lost more
than 7% for the week, as the cybersecurity firm recoiled from a
two-decade high scaled last month.
Department store operators J.Front Retailing and
Isetan Mitsukoshi rose 2.06% and 1.99%, respectively.
Focus has shifted to U.S. labour data due later on Friday,
which if strong could reinforce expectations that the Fed hikes
rates by a steep 75 basis points later in September, and on the
currency market where the yen is wallowing at a 24-year low.
"Of course, a weakened yen has been helping the profits of
the exporting companies," said Sumitomo's Kichikawa.
"But it's not clear whether the yen weakness is positive for
the economy and equity pricing in Japan because at the moment,
Japan's trade balance is in the negative territory."
(Reporting by Rae Wee and Junko Fujita; Writing by Tom
Westbrook; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)