Nikkei falls on soft U.S., China data, printer-makers sink

* Soft U.S. GDP, China PMI triggers selling * Seiko Epson, Konica Minolta dive after earnings * Investors take profits in airliners, other cheap oil plays By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Japanese share prices fell on Monday after economic data from the U.S. and China cast shadows on the global economic outlook, while shares in two printer manufacturers tumbled after their earnings disappointed investors.

Beneficiaries from fall in oil prices in the past several months — ranging from airline companies and rubber makers to power companies — also took a big hit after oil prices posted their biggest rebound in 2-1/2 years.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.4 percent to 17,531.17, hitting its lowest levels in a week after data on Friday showed U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter to 2.6 percent, below economists’ forecast of 3.0 percent.

Another blow came from China, where data on Sunday showed factory sector unexpectedly shrank for the first time in nearly 2-1/2 years last month and firms see more gloom ahead.

Printer maker Seiko Epson fell 10.6 percent and rival Konica Minolta dropped 9.5 percent after their earnings disappointed investors.

“Recently, reactions to earnings have been very big. If the numbers are marginally worse or even in line with expectations, share prices fall massively. But when earnings are surprising good, share prices jump,” said Masaki Uchida, executive director at JPMorgan Asset Management.

Investors also took profits from airline companies and rubber product makers after oil prices rocketed more than 8 percent from six-year lows after a record weekly decline in U.S. oil drilling.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Air transport subindex fell 3.1 percent to be the worst performer among the exchange’s 33 industry subindexes, with Japan Airlines falling 3.4 percent and ANA 2.4 percent.

Rubber products maker subindex fell 2.2 percent, with Bridgestone Corp shedding 2.9 percent.

Power companies, which have been relying heavily on oil and natural gas after most of their nuclear power plants went offline after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, also dived.

Chubu Electric Power fell 4.2 percent while Tokyo Electric Power dropped 2.8 percent, On the other hand, Fujitsu bucked the trend, rising 8.8 percent following its earnings.

“On the whole, earnings are likely to improve further, and underpin the market,” said Takashi, Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities.

“A rebound in oil prices will be also positive for the market in the long run. What people didn’t like was rapid falls, which stoked fear on the energy sector. But if oil prices stabilise here, that’s welcome for the Japanese economy,” he added.

The broader Topix fell 0.6 percent while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 lost 0.5 percent.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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