March 5, 2019 / 6:51 AM / 4 months ago

Nikkei eases from 3-month peak as chip, machinery firms slide

* All but 3 Topix subsectors in negative territory

* Chip-related stocks, machinery shares underperform

By Daniel Leussink and Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei dipped on Tuesday, tracking losses on Wall Street and after Beijing trimmed its economic growth target, putting a cloud over companies with large exposures to China.

Chip equipment makers also lost ground, with Tokyo Electron sliding 2.3 percent and Advantest Corp slipping 2.7 percent.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.4 percent lower at 21,726.28, pulling away from Monday’s near three-month high.

Japan’s benchmark index, which has risen 8.4 percent this year, hit its highest intraday level since Dec. 13 on Monday.

The broader Topix dropped 0.5 percent to 1,619.23, with all but three of its 33 subsectors trading in negative territory.

China on Tuesday lowered its economic growth target for this year to 6.0 to 6.5 percent, as expected, from around 6.5 percent last year amid growing challenges from a trade war with the United States. Beijing offered more stimulus, including cuts in taxes and social security fees, increases in infrastructure investment and lending to small firms.

Hopes for the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, working out a trade truce have been a significant factor helping lift demand for riskier assets such as shares since late last year.

Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management, said that with Japanese stocks having rallied to the upper-21,000 level, “there are worries that it would be easy for selling from taking profits to emerge.”

Companies with large exposure to the Chinese market, whose shares rallied on Monday, lost some ground on profit-taking.

Factory automation equipment maker Yaskawa Electric , which jumped more than 5 percent the previous day, shed 1.5 percent.

Robot maker Fanuc, following a surge of 3.5 percent on Monday, lost 1.3 percent. Construction equipment maker Komatsu also declined 1.5 percent.

Shares of Pigeon Corp slumped 7.5 percent after the baby care products maker reported fourth-quarter results late on Monday. Analysts said investors were disappointed with its performance in China.

Heavy machinery maker IHI Corp dropped 2.7 percent after the company admitted that Japan’s transport ministry had inspected it for faulty checks of aircraft engines.

Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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