Monday, November 29, 1999

Nikkei slips as euro fears weigh, exporters hit

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Japan's Nikkei average fell 1.7 percent on Monday, with persistent worries about the euro zone's fiscal health and the euro's weakness pulling down exporters such as Canon Inc.But Mizuho Financial jumped more than 3 percent after Japan's second-largest bank by assets forecast a near doubling of profit this year as the economy recovers.Astellas Pharma pared losses after it said it would buy U.S. biotech OSI Pharma for $4 billion in cash.The euro plunged to an 18-month low against the dollar on Friday as investors worried that harsh spending cuts mandated by a bailout plan may choke off a fragile recovery in the 16-country euro zone. Analysts also said a general rise in the yen would weigh on shares as well."Greece itself isn't as much of a concern as the fact that euro zone countries in good fiscal shape, such as Germany and France, are going to be putting out a lot of funds to help bail Greece out," said Nagayuki Yamagishi, a strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities."There's inevitable worry about how far they'll be dragged into things, the impact on European shares, and then on the global economy."The benchmark Nikkei slipped 180.53 points to 10,285.37, falling below its 200-day moving average at around 10,350. The broader Topix fell 1.1 percent to 926.15.U.S. stocks fell on Friday on a combination of weak earnings from retailers, Senate backing for limits on credit card fees and concerns over the sustainability of European public debt."There's a lot of nervousness still about the tough fiscal situation in the euro zone, and while Japanese earnings were good there's a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead over the next year, especially given the stronger yen," said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager at the equity division of Nikko Cordial Securities.The euro was down 0.3 percent against the yen at 113.72 yen and the dollar slipped 0.3 percent against the Japanese currency to 92.13 yen .Japan's core machinery orders rose 5.4 percent in March and manufacturers expect further gains in orders in the coming months, in a sign that capital spending may gather pace on the back of a continued economic recovery.Industrial robot maker Fanuc Ltd opened in positive territory after the data came out but then fell back, slipping 1.3 percent to 9,830 yen.Mizuho Financial was one of the strongest performers, climbing to 170 yen even though it said on Friday it would raise about $8.6 billion in a share offering.But its better-than-expected profit forecast underscored the brightening outlook for Japan's banking industry thanks to a decline in bad loans and a modest recovery in the world's second-largest economy.(Editing by Michael Watson)(For more business news on Reuters Money visit
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