Nikkei backs off 15-year high, profit taking on bank stocks

TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei benchmark dropped from 15-year highs on Thursday as investors took profits on recent gainers such as banking shares, which could suffer from a fall in Japanese bond yields.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond skidded to a six-week low after the U.S. Federal Reserve struck a dovish tone on interest rates, driving down Treasury bond yields.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.4 percent lower at 19,476.56 in choppy trade. In early trade, it briefly hit a 15-year intraday high of 19,557.17.

The broader Topix fell 0.4 percent to 1,575.81 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.4 percent to 14,321.48.

Bucking the weakness, Nintendo Co extended its gains from the day before, soaring 11.8 percent after it said it will enter the smartphone gaming industry on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa and Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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