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Nikkei falls, heads for 1st weekly loss in 3 weeks; Murata jumps

Tomo Uetake
Thursday, 24 Oct 2013 | 10:14 PM ET

* Nikkei sheds 1 pct, Topix down 0.9 pct

* Investors' attention turns to domestic earnings

* Murata up after raising half-year profit forecast

TOKYO, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei stock average sagged on Friday morning as investors fretted over the yen's level against the dollar, and opted to wait for a big week in the earnings season to confirm that Corporate Japan is in good health. The benchmark Nikkei shed 1 percent to 14,351.34, after advancing 0.4 percent to 14,486.41 in the previous session, and was on track to end the week lower. The benchmark, however, hit a two-week low of 14,273.71 intraday on Thursday. Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash sales at Credit Suisse in Tokyo said he was surprised the Nikkei had not followed Wall Street's gains. "The market is in two minds right now...I put that down to the inability of the yen to weaken, some wait-and-see before the bulk of earnings next week, and also perhaps some concerns about China." Wall Street resumed its upward move on Thursday as weak economic data underscored views that Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus programme will be in place for the foreseeable future.,

Corporate earnings offered some bright spots, although the rate of growth in U.S. manufacturing output fell for the first time in four years, and the number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week.

The yen was last quoted at 97.28 yen to the dollar. The broader Topix dropped 0.9 percent to 1,192.77 in moderate trade, with volume at 31.7 percent of its full daily average for the past 90 trading days. Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd climbed as much as 6.1 percent to hit a 4-1/2-month high after the component supplier for Apple Inc raised its April-September operating profit forecast. It was the seventh-most traded stock by turnover on the main board. Canon Inc fell 1 percent after cutting its operating profit outlook for a second straight quarter as a slump in demand for high-end cameras dragged on. It was the eighth-most traded stock by turnover on Topix. Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd dropped 2.6 percent after the world's biggest maker of PVC and silicon wafers left its full-year operating profit forecast unchanged on Thursday.

Analysts expect that many Japanese companies are likely to post upbeat results or raise their annual earnings projections during this earnings season. Corporate earnings news will continue to pour in on Friday, with companies such as JFE Holdings Inc and NTT DoCoMo Inc planning to report later in the day.