TOKYO: Tokyo stocks ended down 0.29 percent on Thursday, although losses were limited by a slightly stronger yen and a record-breaking lead from the S&P 500 on Wall Street.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 44.14 points to close at 15,284.42, while the Topix index of all first-section issues declined 0.20 percent, or 2.53 points, to 1,269.86.
Investors were given a positive start after the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high as strong Apple earnings lifted the tech sector.
The broad-based S&P added 0.18 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.40 percent but the Dow dipped 0.16 percent.
However, late profit-taking eroded Tokyo's early gains as traders largely focus on the upcoming release of Japanese earnings over the next few weeks.
"Players bought some selective shares that were forecast to show positive earnings," said Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management.
"But the market is not strong enough to spread the buying sentiment across the board," he added.
In foreign exchange trade the dollar bought 101.49 yen, compared with 101.48 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon.
The dollar had risen to as high as101.54 yen earlier in the day.
Just before markets opened, official data showed Japan's trade deficit ballooned to a record in the first half of the year as exports fell further in June, ramping up pressure on the central bank to unveil fresh measures.
In China, a key measure of manufacturing activity hit an 18-month high in July, according to banking giant HSBC, in a further sign the world's second-largest economy is gaining momentum.
Mobile phone carrier SoftBank lost 1.80 percent to finish at 7,459.0 yen, while rival NTT fell 1.85 percent to 6,714.0 yen.
Electronics giant Sharp rose 1.22 percent to 331.0 yen, Toyota gained 0.39 percent to 6,070.0 yen, and Nissan rose 1.53 percent to 992.0 yen. (AFP)