TOKYO, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks edged down Thursday with the benchmark Nikkei stock index losing 0.10 percent on the yen's firmness and as economic data in China came in below expectations.
Local traders said that investors were out for bargains in early trade on news that Japan's core private-sector machinery orders increased at their second-fastest pace in January, rising more than 13 percent from the previous month.
Analysts said however that the positive market mood wore off in later trade as the U.S. dollar dropped to the 102 yen level and concerns over the Ukraine situation and China's factory output sent investors to the sidelines in a wait-and-see pattern having locked in gains.
Regarding China, traders here said there were jitters as industrial production and retail sales numbers in the world's second-largest economy came in below median economists' expectations.
They pointed to China's factory production increasing 8.6 percent in the January-February period from a year earlier as missing analysts' targets of a 9.5 percent increase. Retail sales, meanwhile, a key gauge of consumer spending, increased by 11.8 percent from the year before, also moderately below expectations.
Gentoku Kiyokawa, head of the Japanese investment management department at BNP Paribas Investment Partners SA, said that analysts knew that the Chinese economy was not going to accelerate, but said that a potential slowdown was worrying and coupled with ongoing concerns in Ukraine, investors' reaction to economic data has been sensitive, with little encouragement needed to offload shares.
Other analysts played down the China data, with Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., stating that the market wasn't in a particularly risk-off mood, but rather a wait-and-see mood, which capped the market upside.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 14.41 points from Wednesday to close at 14,815.98, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 3.48 points, or 0.29 percent, to finish the day at 1,203.46.
Japan's shipping firms extended losses with Mitsui OSK sinking 2.2 percent to 402 yen, while Nippon Yusen K.K. lost 2.6 percent to 304 yen.
Real estate issues also comprised Thursday's notable decliners with Mitsui Fudosan dropping 1.8 percent to 3,117 yen and Mitsubishi Estate retreating 1.4 percent to 2,464 yen.
Mitsui High-tec, an appliance maker, was the day's biggest percentage decliner, tumbling 7.2 percent to 682 yen, after the firm announced it expects a 30 percent drop in its net profit for the current fiscal year.
But Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings bucked the downward trend, rising 1.0 percent to 5,130 yen and 0.9 percent to 230 yen respectively.
Trading volume on Thursday dropped to a year low of 1.69 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Wednesday's volume of 2.02 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 896 to 733.