Nikkei edges off 2-month highs; Toshiba jumps

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – Japan’s Nikkei average fell 0.5 percent on Tuesday, moving further away from two-month highs hit last week, with All Nippon Airways (9202.T: ) sliding after the airline more than doubled its annual loss estimate.

But Toshiba Corp (6502.T: ) finished 3.6 percent higher after it said it was in talks with a company backed by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) Chairman Bill Gates to jointly develop advanced nuclear reactors.

“The market has risen to a pretty good place and though some individual shares are moving on specific factors, there’s no real reason to push the overall Nikkei much higher,” said Hiroaki Osakabe, a fund manager at Chibagin Asset Management.

“There’s some talk and concern about the EU summit on Greece, but if they actually come up with a plan for aid the yen could weaken a bit. In any case, there could be some short-term movement after this.”

A summit of European Union leaders to discuss aid to debt-laden Greece will take place on Thursday and Friday.

The benchmark Nikkei (.N225: ) fell 50.57 points to 10,774.15 after last week hitting a two-month high near 10,900. The index rose 0.7 percent last week for its sixth straight weekly gain.

The broader Topix (.TOPX: ) lost 0.2 percent to 947.37.

Japanese markets were closed on Monday for a national holiday.

The Nikkei’s relative strength index (RSI) hovered at 61 after rising as far as 67 last week, a two-month high. A level of 70 and above is considered overbought.

“After the market had a solid performance last week, it’s in a position to take a breather for now. Stocks with topical news such as the nuclear business are standing out, though moves in the overall market will likely be limited,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager at Daiwa Securities Capital Markets.

The euro rebounded from three-week lows on an improvement in risk appetite, but was still under pressure ahead of the summit. The dollar edged up slightly to 90.31 yen.

TOSHIBA GAINS, ANA SINKS

Toshiba rose to 466 yen and was the most heavily traded share on the Nikkei 225 after it said it was in talks with Gates-backed TerraPower to develop so-called traveling-wave reactors (TWRs), which are designed to use depleted uranium as fuel and thought to hold the promise of running up to 100 years without refueling.

Separately, Toshiba announced it would restart plans to build a NAND flash memory factory due to a recovery in demand. It will start construction on the plant in July and begin production in early 2011.

“The flash memory industry is in an extremely tight spot right now, and makers simply cannot catch up with demand, as Apple (AAPL.O: ) gobbles up the bulk of the supply,” said Kazutaka Oshima, president of Rakuten Investment Management.

Another strong gainer was Olympus Corp (7733.T: ), which rose 3.3 percent to 2,919 yen after Nomura Securities hiked its rating on the company to “buy” from “neutral” and raised the target price to 3,300 yen from 2,700 yen, citing the passing of the U.S. healthcare bill and its likely positive impact on the endoscope business.

But All Nippon Airways fell 6 percent to 267 yen after Japan’s second-biggest airline more than doubled its annual loss estimate due to a slower recovery in travel demand than expected and falling ticket prices.

ANA now expects a group net loss of 65 billion yen for the financial year ending this month, wider than a 28 billion yen loss it had projected earlier.

Shares of Nisshinbo Holdings Inc (3105.T: ) fell 2.6 percent to 946 yen after the Nikkei business daily said the company would freeze its plans to build two solar module manufacturing equipment plants due to falling demand and prices.

Some 1.7 billion shares changed hands on the Tokyo Exchange’s first section, falling from the 7-week high of 2.8 billion hit on March 12.

Declining shares outnumbered advancing ones, 871 to 649.

Stock Today

(Additional reporting by Aiko Hayashi and Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Nikkei edges off 2-month highs; Toshiba jumps