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Nikkei falls, on track to snap 7-day winning streak

Sophie Knight
Wednesday, 24 Oct 2012 | 1:18 AM ET

* Investors see poor U.S. earnings as chance to take profit

* Nikkei holds above support levels

* Exporters off after rally inspired by weaker yen

* Utilities bought back after skidding in previous session

TOKYO, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average fell in early Wednesday trade after poor U.S. earnings increased investor uneasiness about the outlook for Japanese companies, and prompted them to take profits after a steep rally over seven days of gains. Exporters shed after a rally propelled by a weaker yen over the past week and a half, with automakers Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co down 1.3 and 1.4 percent respectively, and construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd slipping 2.1 percent. However, the benchmark pared its early losses as the market continued to be supported by expectations of easing from the Bank of Japan at its next policy meeting on Oct. 30, via an increase in its asset-buying scheme. ``We can see this as a temporary, short-term adjustment,'' said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, manager of investment and research at SMBC Friend Securities. ``With the yen still soft and stocks at highs after a quick rally, it's a very good moment for people to take profits.'' The Nikkei dropped 0.7 percent to 8,949.21, holding above its 25-day moving average at 8,872.59 and its 75-day moving average at 8,854.24. However, analysts said it could test those support levels if HSBC's China purchasing manager's index disappoints investors this morning. In New York, weak results from chemical maker DuPont and United Technologies Corp hit sentiment as investors become concerned that the global slowdown was having a bigger impact on corporate earnings than anticipated. ``Seeing as the market has now recovered after a sell-off on doubts about earnings, it's possible that it could fall sharply again as we start to see actual earnings come out and people realise that it really is as bad as expected,'' Nakanishi of SMBC Friend Securities said. On Wednesday morning, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd sagged 5.7 percent after the company sliced its first half operating profit forecast almost in half to 10.3 billion yen ($129 million), citing weaker-than-expected sales of precision equipment and motorcycles due to a slowdown in China and Europe. Canon Inc dropped 1.6 percent and Ricoh Co Ltd lost 2.2 percent after U.S. rival Xerox Corp, historically known for printers and copiers, reported lower-than-expected third-quarter revenue and cut its full-year earnings forecast. Utilities ran counter to the market, with the sector gaining 1.5 percent after a 6.6 percent slide on Tuesday on media reports that Kansai Electric Power Co Inc would cancel its previously forecast annual dividend as it struggles with high oil and gas prices. KDDI Corp gained 1.2 percent after the Nikkei business daily said it was going to integrate its cable business with Sumitomo Corp by late 2013, after acquiring current market leader Jupiter Telecommunications. Sumitomo lost 0.5 percent, however, while Jupiter lost 3.2 percent after soaring 44.1 percent in the last two sessions on reports of the deal, which had brought it to more than the 110,000 yen that the Nikkei said KDDI and Sumitomo would offer per share for the remaining 30 percent of shares they do not own already. The Nikkei rose for a seventh straight day of gains on Tuesday, its longest winning streak since July 2011.