Stocks turned lower Monday, weighed down by dismal U.S. employment data released in Washington on Friday.
The 225-issue Nikkei average shed 37.10 points, or 0.19 percent, to close at 19,397.98 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On Friday, the key market gauge climbed 122.29 points.
The Topix index of all first-section issues ended down 3.45 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,560.71, after rising 9.99 points the previous trading day.
Selling took the upper hand from the outset of Monday’s trading, with the Nikkei average briefly losing over 190 points, after the U.S. Labor Department announced a substantially weaker-than-expected nonfarm payroll increase in March.
Reflecting a growing view that the U.S. Federal Reserve will push back a highly anticipated interest rate hike, the dollar weakened in early trading in Tokyo, dampening buying sentiment for stocks, brokers said.
Export-oriented issues were pressured by investor worries about a slowdown in the U.S. economic recovery, they noted.
After the initial selling ran its course, however, the market showed resilience thanks to buying on dips, as the majority of investors expect Japanese stocks to maintain upward momentum, brokers noted.
Defensive issues, such as foods and drugs, attracted buying, they said.
Although the downside was limited, stocks moved in negative territory through the day.
A wait-and-see mood prevailed as players were hoping to see how Wall Street would react to the employment data after the end of the Easter weekend through Monday, brokers said.
The March nonfarm payrolls’ seasonally adjusted increase of 126,000 fell far short of market expectations and was the lowest figure since December 2013, though the average hourly wage rose modestly from the previous month, making some analysts believe the labor market has been recovering steadily.
“The Fed had been expected to raise policy interest rates in June or September, but investors began to think the rate hike will come in December,” said Hiroichi Nishi, assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.’s Investment Research and Investor Services.
Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,122 to 606 in the TSE’s first section, while 150 issues were unchanged.
Volume fell to 1.592 billion shares from Friday’s 1.713 billion shares.
Among export-oriented names, automakers Toyota, Mazda and Fuji Heavy, industrial robot manufacturer Fanuc, chipmaking equipment producer Tokyo Electron and air conditioner maker Daikin, in particular, fared poorly.
Uniqlo clothing store operator Fast Retailing, a heavily weighted component of the Nikkei average, also met with selling.
Toshiba sagged 4.88 percent after the electronics maker disclosed Friday a possible improper accounting practice.
By contrast, mayonnaise maker Kewpie, drugmaker Shionogi and soy source producer Kikkoman were buoyant along with other food stocks.
Sharp surged 6.06 percent on the news that the struggling electronics maker is considering seeking public funds for its liquid crystal display business.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average fell 90 points to finish at 19,390.