The Nikkei stock index fell 0.34 percent Friday as investors opted to lock in profits, but losses were limited on some solid economic data released here.
Local strategists said that despite trade opening higher on Wall Street's gains, specifically, the S&P 500 index closing at a new record high on the back of robust U.S. labor statistics, a trend towards profit taking became pervasive towards the end of the first session and throughout the second.
"It is unavoidable that investors locked in gains as today is just before a weekend and the end of month," said Toshikazu Horiuchi, equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.
Government data released before trading began, showing that Japan's consumer prices gained 3.2 percent year on year in April, the most since 1991 and more than median economists' forecasts, helped support the market's downside, some analysts said, coupled with separate data showing the ratio of job offers to job seekers climbed for the 17th straight month to 1.08 in April from 1.07 in March, marking the best level in more than seven years.
But industrial production falling 2.5 percent in April compared with the previous month, more than the 2 percent decline estimated by economists, caused some consternation among investors, traders here said, but maintained the view that confidence in the economy seems to be improving.
"There's more confidence in the economic fundamentals. The domestic economy may stall a bit this quarter because of the sales- tax increase, but the view that it's only temporary is spreading," said Juichi Wako, an equity strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 49.34 points from Thursday to close at 14,632.38, while the Topix index of all first- section issues added 0.73 point, or 0.06 percent, to close the week at 1,201.41, extending its run of closing highs to a seventh day.
Japan's brokerages came under pressure after holding solid recently, with Nomura Holdings dropping 1.6 percent to 669 yen, while Daiwa Securities Group retreated 0.2 percent to 821 yen.
Credit Saison added to losses Friday, with the consumer finance company dropping 3.5 percent to 1,831 yen, following Credit Suisse cutting its target price for the shares to 1,800 yen from 2,480 yen on Wednesday.
Heavily weighted Fast Retailing, owner and operator of the Uniqlo chain of high street apparel stores, also closed in negative territory, losing 1.3 percent to 33,590 yen, as investors opted to lock in gains made on the stock's recent rise.
But utility issues held firm, with Tokyo Electric Power leaping 5.4 percent to 413 yen, following the Nikkei newspaper reporting the government will revise the law regarding damages payable in the event of a nuclear disaster.
Electric Power Development Co. also gained 2.6 percent to 3,020 yen, on the news, while Hokkaido Electric Power Co. advanced 1.4 percent to close the week at 747 yen.
Trading volume on Friday rose to 2.77 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, up from Thursday's volume of 1.89 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 834 to 815.