Nikkei falls for 5th session as exporters decline
TOKYO, May 15: The Nikkei slid 1.30 percent by midmorning on Monday, falling for a fifth session as exporters such as Canon Inc. lost ground on concern about the impact of a stronger yen and after a sharp fall in U.S. stocks. Shares of Softbank Corp. rose more than 5 percent following a report it has joined forces with Apple Computer Inc. to develop mobile phones that include Apple's popular iPod music players.
''The problem is the currency,'' said Katsuhiko Kodama, senior strategist at Toyo Securities, referring to a recent slump in Japanese stocks.
''The strength of the yen will lead investors to worry about the impact on corporate profits. The yen needs to quickly drop back to the level of 110, or the market just will not be able to advance,'' Kodama said.
Many Japanese exporters have made profit forecasts based on an estimated exchange rate of 110 yen to the dollar.
The Nikkei was down 215.68 points at 16,386.10 as of 0050 GMT.
The TOPIX index was down 0.71 percent at 1,676.18.
The yen was at 109.87 yen to the dollar. On Friday it hit an eight-month high of 109.29. A strong yen is a minus for Japan's exporters as it eats into profits when earnings from abroad are brought home.
Canon, which makes more than 75 percent of its sales abroad, fell 2.3 percent to 8,470 yen. Fellow exporter Toyota Motor Corp.
declined 1.7 percent to 6,260 yen, down for a sixth straight session.
Softbank gained 5.3 percent to 3,080 yen, and was the most actively traded stock by value AM.on the Tokyo exchange's first section.
Softbank is working with Apple to develop mobile phones with built-in iPod music players, business daily Nihon Keizai said on its website on Friday.
A spokesman for Softbank declined to comment on the report.
U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday after a jump in import prices fanned inflation concerns and weaker crude oil prices hurt energy stocks.