TOKYO: Tokyo stocks gave up early gains to close 0.79 percent lower on Thursday, dragged down by a stronger yen and poor Chinese manufacturing data.
The benchmark Nikkei-225 index fell 125.07 points to 15,695.89, while the Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 0.93 percent, or 12.11 points, to 1,287.52.
The Tokyo bourse started the session on a positive note as the yen drifted lower, giving a boost to exporters.
But it reversed course following the release of data from banking giant HSBC that showed Chinese manufacturing contracted for the first time in six months in January.
Players dumped the dollar for the Japanese unit, a traditional safe-haven currency, as the Chinese figures rekindled concerns about the world's number-two economy.
The greenback bought 104.30 yen in the afternoon, down from 104.54 yen in New York Wednesday.
Japanese investors are now awaiting the release of corporate earnings at home over the coming weeks with major firms including Sony, Toyota and Panasonic set to publish results.
"Fund managers typically sit on their hands during the so-called 'quiet period' around earnings reporting season," an equity strategist at a foreign brokerage in Japan told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Whereas US stocks showed negligible profit growth and higher valuations, Japan stocks are showing robust profit growth and valuations that are not high. This would seem to portend upside for prices."
In Tokyo trade mobile carrier SoftBank fell 3.46 percent to 8,539 yen, Nissan slipped 2.51 percent to 934 yen and Toyota lost 1.32 percent to end at 6,256 yen. (AFP)