April 9, 2012 / 1:17 AM / in 5 years

Nikkei sheds 1.4 percent after poor U.S. job figures

An employee of the Tokyo Stock Exchange works at the bourse at its headquarters in Tokyo February 2, 2012.Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average shed 1.4 percent on Monday after a disappointing U.S. jobs report showed the U.S. economic recovery remained sluggish, while a stronger yen weighed on exporters.

Exporters and financials came under pressure after they led the Nikkei rally in January to March, when the index gained more than 19 percent to log its best first-quarter performance in 24 years.

Honda Motor Co (7267.T) lost 1.8 percent, Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) fell 1.5 percent and TDK Corp (6762.T) sagged 2.6 percent, while Japan's top investment bank Nomura Holdings (8604.T) dropped 2 percent.

The Nikkei .N225 was down 138.15 points at 9,550.30, holding above its 50 percent retracement of its fall from February to November last year, near 9,511.

The benchmark was on track for its fifth straight session of losses, which would mark its longest losing streak since November.

"We are already in the 9,500s now. We will see if that 9,500 provides support. If not, our technical analyst is looking for the 9,300 handle (for support)," said Naomi Fink, Japan equity strategist at Jefferies.

"It's an interim correction. We went, perhaps, a little too far, too fast."

U.S. payrolls grew by 120,000 in March, worse than the forecast gain of 203,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent from February's 8.3 percent.

Trading was expected to be light with Australia, Hong Kong and the UK markets closed for Easter Monday and ahead of the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting ending on Tuesday.

The BOJ is expected to refrain from easing monetary policy this week, holding fire until a more thorough assessment of the economy two weeks later which may show further action is needed to nudge inflation up towards its 1 percent target. The central bank will hold another meeting on April 27.

The broader Topix .TOPX dropped 1.3 percent to 815.35.

($1 = 82.3700 Japanese yen)

Reporting by Dominic Lau; Editing by Edmund Klamann

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