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Nikkei falls to 1-mth low, Wall St slump frays nerves ahead of US jobs

Ayai Tomisawa
Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 | 9:04 PM ET

* Markets jittery ahead of U.S. payrolls

* Nikkei should be supported above 14,000 - analysts

* Nikon tumbles after cutting digital camera sales forecast

* Online shares included in new index down on profit-taking

TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks tumbled to one-month lows on Friday morning after a sharp drop on Wall Street dented risk appetite, keeping investors on the defensive ahead of a crucial U.S. jobs report later in the day. The benchmark Nikkei dropped 0.9 percent to 14,096.96 in mid-morning trade, after falling to 14,026.17 earlier, the lowest since Oct 9. The Nikkei remains below 14,193.99, a 50 percent retracement of its May high to its June low. On Thursday, Wall Street suffered its biggest fall in more than two months as weak earnings from the likes of Whole Foods and Qualcomm dimmed the mood. "The Japanese market took a hit from weak U.S. markets, but if the Nikkei falls below 14,000, investors may start buying on the dips," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities. "A level below 14,000 does not do justice to companies' fundamentals considering their results," he said, adding that on average, companies are expected to post a 38.7 percent rise in their pretax profits for the year ending March. Of the 127 Nikkei companies that have so far reported July-September results, two-third of them either beat or met analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. That compared with 58 percent in the previous quarter. On Friday, bellwether exporters were weaker as some investors trimmed their positions ahead of the U.S. jobs data. A strong jobs report would give the U.S. Federal Reserve a reason to taper its monthly purchases of $85 billion in assets sooner rather than later, particularly after a much better-than-expected U.S. gross domestic product report on Thursday. Speculation over the timeline for trimming the Fed's stimulus, a major driver of risk assets in recent years, has buffeted global markets since May. "Eyes are on the jobs data, and as the data impacts the direction of the Fed's tapering, performances in emerging markets are also in focus," said Makoto Kikuchi, the chief executive of Myojo Asset Management. Sony Corp fell 2.4 percent and Toyota Motor Corp shed 0.8 percent. Nikon Corp stumbled 6.3 percent to a one-month low after the company cut sales forecast of its digital camera business. The Topix dropped 0.7 percent to 1,176.56. Profit-taking hit online companies such as GungHo Online Entertainment Inc and CyberAgent Inc, which attracted buying on Thursday after they were included in a new index comprised of companies with high return on equity and strong corporate governance. GungHo slipped 0.9 percent and CyberAgent skidded 2.6 percent.

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