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Nikkei eases further off 6-month high; Panasonic, Nikon up

Dominic Lau
Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 | 8:44 PM ET

* Sources say Panasonic to sell 3 Japan chip plants, stock up

* Rakuten jumps after being promoted to main board Topix

TOKYO, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged lower on Wednesday on profit-taking, peeling further away from a six-month high, though traders said investors were looking for opportunities to pick up bargains. Nikon Corp, Ricoh Co Ltd and Canon Inc were in demand, up between 0.8 and 3.1 percent after U.S. Hewlett-Packard Co beat revenue forecasts.

Nikon is down 23.6 percent year-to-date and is the worst underperformer in the Nikkei this year, while the benchmark has rallied nearly 49 percent. The Nikkei shed 0.4 percent to 15,461.20 in mid-morning trade on Wednesday, easing further away from a six-month high hit on Monday. "The market itself is a little bit down today, but still people are looking for opportunities on the long side," a Tokyo-based sales trader said. "Now that the earnings are over, people are looking for growth scenarios," he added, referring to the company earnings reporting season. Panasonic Corp rose 3 percent to a near three-year high after sources said the consumer electronics maker will sell three semiconductor plants in Japan to Israeli chipmaker TowerJazz, bringing it closer to completing the overhaul of its loss-making businesses. The sources also said Panasonic is in talks with another company to sell its five overseas chip factories. Rakuten Inc jumped 10.2 percent after the Tokyo Stock Exchange said the e-commerce operator will be promoted to the main board Topix from Jasdaq for emerging companies, starting Dec. 3. Currency-sensitive exporters came under pressure as the yen came off a six-month low against the dollar overnight. Honda Motor Co Ltd, Mazda Motor Corp, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd and Daikin Industries Ltd were off between 0.4 and 2.4 percent. As of Tuesday's close, Mazda Motor and Fuji Heavy Industries were the second- and third-best performers in the Nikkei this year, with gains of about 160 percent. Mobile operator SoftBank Corp was the best performer, though the stock was down 2 percent on profit-taking on Wednesday morning. A senior trader from a U.S. bank in Tokyo said he did not expect massive profit-taking in the next few days as November tends to be the year-end for many hedge funds. "Hedge funds have made good money this year and that those who were planning on getting quieter towards the year-end have already reduced their positions," he said. Underscoring the positive momentum, the pace of deterioration in Topix's one-month earning momentum slowed to -0.65 this month from -1.83 in October. The Topix dipped 0.2 percent to 1,250.70, with volume at 27 percent of fully daily average for the past 90 trading days.

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