TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed down 1.79 percent Thursday, hit by profit-taking after recent gains, a stronger yen and a fall on Wall Street.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei-225 index lost 265.32 points to end at 14,534.74, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was off 1.63 percent, or 19.86 points, at 1,199.74.
The Nikkei could be stuck below the 16,000 level unless there is a surge in confidence over the US economy, said Nomura Securities chief strategist for Japan Hiromichi Tamura.
But he added that buoyant Japanese corporate earnings would provide support.
"I expect range-bound trading for a while -- what we need is confidence in the US economy," Tamura told Dow Jones Newswires.
On Wall Street a four-day winning streak came to an end for the Dow and S&P Wednesday, as investors took their cash off the table ahead of retail sales figures and unemployment benefit claims.
The Dow lost 0.19 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.03 percent but the Nasdaq rose 0.24 percent.
Reaction was muted to news the Senate had voted to lift the US debt ceiling through March 2015, averting a contentious political battle that could have rattled markets.
The near-term focus will be US retail sales data due later Thursday, which will provide fresh clues about the underlying strength of the economy and the effects from recent unusually cold weather.
A strong result could indicate recent soft jobs data were caused by the weather and give the Federal Reserve's policy board more room to further reduce its stimulus programme when it meets in March.
On Tuesday, the Fed's new chief Janet Yellen pledged to maintain its monetary policy, but she highlighted the jobs market recovery as shaky.
The Fed could consider a pause in tapering if economic conditions show a significant deterioration, she added.
In forex trade the dollar slipped to 102.02 yen from 102.50 yen in New York Wednesday.
Toyota fell 2.14 percent to 5,891 yen, Sony lost 2.03 percent to finish at 1,729 yen and Nintendo fell 3.69 percent to 11,715 yen. (AFP)