Nikkei retreats from 1-week high; Honda, Toshiba fall after earnings

Dominic Lau
Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 | 9:24 PM ET

* Honda Motor down on disappointment it didn't upgrade earnings f'cast

* ANA hits two-month low after nearly halving guidance

* Sharp, Sony, SoftBank to report results after mkt close

TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average pulled back from a one-week high on Thursday morning on earnings concerns, with blue-chips Toshiba Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd coming under pressure after reporting quarterly results. Honda lost 1.5 percent as investors were disappointed that the automaker kept its operating profit target for the year to next March unchanged at 780 billion yen ($7.95 billion). That compared with a consensus forecast of 827.9 billion yen from 23 analysts. Toshiba dropped 1.8 percent, with analysts expressing concerns that it relies too heavy on NAND memory chips as its earnings driver as the cycle may be peaking out.

The Nikkei slipped 0.2 percent to 14,468.58 in mid-morning trade, ahead of the outcome of a Bank of Japan meeting later in the day, after gaining 1.2 percent in the previous session. The Japanese central bank is expected to slightly revise up its economic growth forecast to around 1.5 percent for the next fiscal year on hopes a government stimulus package will offset slowing exports to Asia. The BOJ meeting followed a less dovish statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve overnight, which prompted profit-taking in U.S. stocks. The benchmark Nikkei is flat this month. The uninspiring October performance came after a 8 percent rally in September, its best monthly performance since 1968. Still, the index is up 39 percent this year. "It's month-end, so some programme trading may be running in the market," a senior trader at a foreign bank in Tokyo said. "The key is whether we can close up above 14,500," he said, adding that the flows were mainly focused in earnings-related stocks.

ANA HIT TURBULENCE All Nippon Airways was the third-most traded on the main board by turnover after the carrier almost halved its operating profit forecast for the year ending March 2014. The stock was down as much as 6 percent to a two-month low. Rival Japan Airlines Co Ltd, which is to report quarterly results later in the day, dipped 0.2 percent. Sony Corp, Panasonic Corp, Sharp Corp and mobile operator SoftBank Corp are also due to announce their earnings on Thursday. Panasonic climbed 3.7 percent to a five-month high after it secured further lithium-ion battery orders from Tesla Motors Inc for its electric cars. Of the 48 Nikkei companies that have so far reported quarterly earnings, 56 percent of them either beat or met market expectations, Thomson Reuters StarMine data showed. That compared with 58 percent in the previous quarter. Another trader said some quant funds were seen buying defensive and domestic-focused names as they sought to rebalance their books. The broader Topix index was flat at 1,204.60, with trading volume at 31 percent of full daily average for the past 90 days. Despite the rally so far this year, valuations in Japanese stocks were not too taxing. The Topix carried a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14.2, below a 10-year average of 16.1, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. It was also cheaper than the U.S. S&P 500's 14.7.

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