By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese stocks fell Thursday, as investors worried about disappointing corporate earnings and as they absorbed signs the U.S. Federal Reserve is sticking to its timing on an increase in interest rates.
The Nikkei Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.25% declined 1.1%, marking its biggest daily drop in almost two weeks. The broader Topix /zigman2/quotes/210598092/delayed JP:180460 +0.41% also fell 1.1%.
The Fed reiterated Wednesday that it will remain patient as it decides when to start raising interest rates, implying that a midyear rate hike is still possible.
The yen /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.1467% weakened versus the dollar to ¥117.89, compared with ¥117.46 late Wednesday in New York, amid dollar-buying by Japanese importers to settle month-end accounts.
Also weighing on the markets were some disappointing corporate earnings results.
Nintendo Co. /zigman2/quotes/208063194/delayed JP:7974 -0.16% sank 8.7%, despite reporting a net-profit gain for the April-December period, as the game-console maker cut its operating-profit outlook. Maker of construction and mining equipment Komatsu Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204002437/delayed JP:6301 +0.08% slid 8.5%, with its chief executive officer expecting its Chinese sales to remain weak, according to Bloomberg News.
Camera maker Canon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 +1.92% lost 5.1%, with analysts and reports saying its quarterly profit increase was mostly helped by a weaker yen. Skymark Airlines Inc. plunged 25.2%, after the discount carrier filed for bankruptcy protection.
Elsewhere, Chinese stocks also headed lower, after its securities regulator announced Wednesday night that it soon would launch a second round of its crackdown on margin-trading practices.
In other markets, South Korea’s Kospi Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.20% ended 0.5% lower, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.04% finished 0.3% higher.