* Nikkei down 1.1 pct, looks set for near 1 pct gain in 2016
* Toshiba plummets after credit downgrades
* Chip testing device makers fall after Nvidia's fall spooks
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Dec 29 Japan's Nikkei share average fell
to a more than two-week low on Thursday tracking weakness on
Wall Street, but Takata Corp surged on news that the maker of
defective air bags could settle U.S. criminal charges next
Meanwhile, Toshiba Corp continued to worry
investors, diving as much as 26 percent to hit the lowest level
since May after rating agencies cut the company's credit
On the previous day, its stock stumbled 20 percent to its
daily-limit low on lingering worries about its big special loss.
Moody's Japan K.K. downgraded Toshiba's corporate family
rating to "CAA1" from "B3", while S&P Global Ratings cut its
long-term corporate credit to "B-" from "B".
The Nikkei dropped 1.1 percent to 19,184.75 points
by midmorning after hitting as low as 19,168.06, the lowest
level since Dec. 13.
The index looked set to end the year with a gain of nearly 1
percent after a more than 16 percent rally in the fourth
"In a holiday-thinned market, there are even fewer buyers
today especially after we saw a sharp drop in the U.S. market,"
said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi
UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
He also said that the technology sector, and semiconductor
stocks in particular, was hit harder after U.S. visual computing
company Nvidia plummeted overnight after short seller
Citron Research said the market was overlooking the headwinds
for the stock - which had earlier touched a record high.
"Nvidia is like a shining star which was attracting buyers
lately, so its sharp drop sent shock across the sector, and
Japanese chip testing machine makers which have been rising
lately became a target of profit-taking," Fujito said.
Advantest Corp fell 1.9 percent, snapping a
sixth-day winning streak, while Tokyo Electron Ltd,
which had been rising for 11 straight days until Wednesday,
dropped 2.6 percent.
These stocks had been bought on expectations that their
testing devices are in high demand on the back of strong demand
for 3D NAND chips used for high-end smartphones.
Takata soared 16 percent after a source told
Reuters that it could settle criminal charges with the U.S.
Department of Justice before the Obama administration leaves
office next month.
The broader Topix dropped 1.1 percent to 1,520.15
and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 1.1 percent to
(Editing by Kim Coghill)