Nikkei steady, Fast Retailing falls after weak Oct sales

Dominic Lau
Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 8:20 PM ET

* Fast Retailing hits 2-month low after Uniqlo Oct sales down Y/Y

* Mitsubishi Motors up on Renault-Nissan cooperation

TOKYO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average held steady on Wednesday as a fall in Fast Retailing Co Ltd after weak October sales offset gains in companies rebounding from a recent battering on the back of disappointing quarterly earnings. The Nikkei was steady at 14,222.12 in mid-morning trade, breaking below its 50-day moving average of 14,239.73. Fast Retailing shed 2.5 percent to a two-month low after it said same-store sales at its Uniqlo causal clothing chain in Japan fell 13.8 percent last month because of warmer-than-usual temperatures and typhoons that discouraged shoppers.

It contributed 31 negative points to the Nikkei and was the fourth-most traded stock on the main board by turnover. Mobile operator SoftBank Corp, another index heavyweight, was the most traded stock. It was down 2.5 percent, giving up some of the 5.6 percent rally in the previous two sessions on the back of its strong first-half earnings. But industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp advanced 1.1 percent, on track to snap a five-day losing streak after its quarterly orders disappointed investors. Mitsubishi Motors Corp gained 2.2 percent on news France's Renault and alliance partner Nissan Motor Co Ltd will deepen cooperation with the carmaker to develop small cars and sedans. Nissan added 1.6 percent, recovering from the previous session's 10.4 percent slump after it cut its annual earnings guidance, facing a slowdown in emerging markets and quality issues. "Earnings reactions for a lot of these shares are quite volatile. It's not normal to see Nissan down 10 percent, Sony down 10 percent. They were pretty bad but it's just a bit more volatile than it used to be," said a senior trader at a European brokerage in Tokyo. "Low volume for one. I think since people don't have an overall directional view on the market. They are kind of making bigger bet, perhaps, on single stocks rather than on the overall market, which is causing a bit more volatility," he said, adding that their sell orders outpaced buy by two-to-one. Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report will be a key event for the markets to gauge whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will scale back its massive stimulus later this year.

TOYOTA EARNINGS Toyota Motor Corp, the second-most traded, was flat ahead of its quarterly earnings results after the market close. The stock has risen 58 percent so far this year, outpacing a 37 percent in the Benchmark Nikkei. BNP Paribas analysts expected the Nikkei to reach 18,000, or 26.6 percent above Wednesday's level, by June 2014, if the Bank of Japan offered further easing and reforms in Japanese pension funds met market expectations, which could increase their equity allocations. They recommended investors buying call spread on the Nikkei expiring in June 2014. The broader Topix index rose 0.3 percent to 1,186.29, with trading volume at 25 percent of fully daily average for the past 90 trading days. With nearly two-third of Nikkei companies reported quarterly results, 62 percent of them either beat or met market expectations, data from Thomson Reuters StarMine showed. That compared with 58 percent in the previous quarter. Dainippon Screen Manufacturing reported in-line quarterly earnings, but investors were disappointed that the precision machinery maker posted a rise in fixed costs, prompting Goldman Sachs to lower its 12-month price target by 7 percent. The stock lost 6 percent to a two-month low.

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