Worries over American Lenders and a Holiday Dampens Activity; Japan

Article excerpt

Japanese shares gave up earlier gains to close lower yesterday as investors exercised caution ahead of the US session tonight, where stocks are expected to fall on weaker-than-expected quarterly results from Microsoft and online search leader Google.

Stocks were sold across the board with commodity-related issues leading the decline, while financial stocks trimmed or erased early gains.

A media report saying struggling mortgage giant Freddie Mac was considering a major stock sale added to the negative sentiment.

The Wall Street Journal reported Freddie Mac was studying raising capital by selling as much as EUR10 billion in new shares to investors, with the major stock sale deepening worries about stock dilution.

The Nikkei got off to a strong start after Wall Street surged overnight thanks to continued declines in oil prices and firm quarterly reports from big names such as JP Morgan.

But stocks gradually lost steam after investors moved to cash in profits as they wait for the release of Citigroup's earnings and the start of Japan's earnings reporting season next week.

"Overseas investors consider Japanese stocks as a leading indicator for the global economy, and they feel it is not easy to find a cue to buy up stocks in view of the gloomy outlook," said Yoshikiyo Shimamine, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute. …