Japan stocks fall as investors pocket gains from a year-long rally

Stanley White
·2 min read

By Stanley White

TOKYO, March 2 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell on Tuesday, giving up early gains as some investors booked profits on defensive energy and utility shares before the end of the fiscal year this month.

The Nikkei 225 Index fell 0.22% to 29,598.56 by 0153 GMT, while the broader Topix declined by 0.46% to 1,893.64.

The benchmark Nikkei jumped 2.4% on Monday as signs of a massive sell-off in U.S. Treasuries coming to an end gave a boost to riskier assets, but equity gains quickly fizzled out on Tuesday.

Japanese investors will close their books as their fiscal year ends on the last day of March and many market participants are looking to take profits on the Nikkei's 87% rally in the past year to a more than three-decade high.

"I don't expect stocks to enter a downtrend, but we have risen so far that it will take at least a month for the markets to consolidate," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co.

"The Nikkei could move sideways this month because it is right before the end of the fiscal year, but it is possible markets will break out next month."

The largest percentage decliners in Nikkei were Z Holdings Corp down 4.29%, followed by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd losing 3.59% and Pacific Metals Co Ltd down by 3.47%.

The largest percentage gainers were Tokai Carbon Co Ltd up 4.06%, followed by Haseko Corp gaining 2.65%, and Hitachi Zosen Corp up by 2.65%.

There were 66 advancers on the Nikkei index against 153 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board was 0.55 billion, compared to the average of 1.33 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Rashmi Aich)