The Nikkei stock index snapped its nine-day winning streak Friday dropping 0.30 percent as investors looked to secure gains ahead of the weekend and after the market' s extended rally, with an eye of caution on an upcoming speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen later in the day.
The Nikkei 225 index dropped 47.01 points to end the week at 15, 539.19, while the broader Topix index of all first-section issues fell 0.40 percent, or 5.12 points, to close at 1,286.07.
Market players had been speculating earlier this week that the U.S. central bank might begin raising its interest rates at an earlier rate.
The minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's July meeting stated that, "Many participants noted that if convergence toward the committee's objectives occurred more quickly than expected, it might become appropriate to begin removing monetary policy accommodation sooner than they currently anticipated."
Traders here said the language was the most direct the Fed has used since the financial crash in 2008. The Fed has been reigning in its 10 billion U.S. dollar per month quantitative easing program incrementally since late last year. "The Fed makes it clear that rate increases are dependent on the economy, meaning that they may refrain from raising rates should it lose momentum. Japanese shares will struggle to extend gains unless domestic fundamentals improve,"said Kenji Ueno, a senior investment manager at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management Co.
Currency markets did little to provide investors with incentives to buy, as the U.S. dollar was fetching 103.68 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, compared with 103.85 yen logged in New York on Thursday afternoon.
Some local analysts said that profit taking finally ensured the index fell into negative territory, as investors opted to hedge on the side of caution and lock in gains ahead of the weekend and Yellen's speech later in the day. "The Nikkei slipped into minus territory in the afternoon as investors moved to tidy up positions prior to a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the day at an annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming,"noted Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.
With the yen turning slightly higher in currency markets, export-related issues ended mixed with top-automaker Toyota skidding down 0.78 percent to 5,943 yen, while Nissan advanced 0. 24 percent to 1,015 yen.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. gained 1.7 percent to 1,167 yen, after Credit Suisse Group AG said their earnings would improve thanks to increasing demand in Thailand and its plug-in hybrid car models in its European market.
Consumer electronics behemoth Sony added 0.12 percent to 1,954. 5, but rival Sharp fell 1.2 percent to 322 yen.
Bic Camera, a popular high street electronics retailer, advanced 1.2 percent, to 900 yen, after media reports said the company announced its group operating profit for the year ending this month is likely to jump to 20 billion yen, 50 percent more than previously expected.
Oriental Land, operator of Tokyo Disneyland, found favor Friday, leaping 5 percent to 20,810 yen, after announcing Thursday that a special event featuring the hugely popular animated film"Frozen" will be staged at the theme park close to Tokyo next year.
Trading volume on Friday dropped to 1.75 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Thursday's volume of 2. 09 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,181 to 493.