Japan stocks fall for first time in 4 days on stronger yen

TOKYO - Japanese stocks fell for the first time in four days, paring the Topix index's biggest weekly gain since February, after weak US economic data pushed the yen higher against the dollar.

TDK Corp, an electronics maker that gets most its sales overseas, dropped 2.2 per cent. Air carriers led declines on the Topix as Japan Airlines lost 2.9 per cent after crude oil reached a four-month high.

Digital advertising agency CyberAgent tumbled 3.6 per cent as net income and sales missed estimates. Kao Corp slumped 2.6 per ent after the cosmetics maker's quarterly profit dropped more than half.

The Topix lost 0.4 per cent to 1,618.84 at the close in Tokyo, paring its weekly gain to 1.9 per cent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.8 per cent to 20,020.04, ending the week above 20,000 for the first time in 15 years.

The yen rose 0.1 per cent to 119.43 per dollar after yesterday strengthening 0.3 per cent as rising jobless claims and weak housing data cast doubt on the US economic outlook.

Manufacturing reports globally were weaker than expected.

"The PMI data out of Japan, China and the US showed that the global economy may be losing some steam," said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings in Tokyo. "Ahead of next week, where we'll see a proper kick-off to the earnings season and a slew of US economic indicators, investors will be taking a wait-and-see mode."

A Markit Economics preliminary index of US manufacturing decreased to a three-month low. Similar gauges in Europe and Japan also declined and were below economist estimates.

China's preliminary PMI reading from HSBC Holdings and Markit for April slumped to the lowest in a year.