Japan shares may take breather next week

Japanese shares are expected to take a breather next week after the key index gained more than 5 percent in the past week, analysts said on Friday.

"Today's selling was only natural," Kenichi Hirano, market analyst at Tachibana Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires, after the Nikkei index eased 0.47 percent Friday on profit-taking.

"There may be more consolidation ahead, especially as the dollar's rise appears to be slowing below the 100-yen mark."

In the week to April 12, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 651.5 points, or 5.08 percent, to 13,485.14.

The Topix index of all first section shares gained 82.33 points, or 7.72 percent, to 1,148.57.

Shares on Monday surged to their highest level in more than four years, as a further drop in the yen's value ignited buying of exporters' stocks.

Profit-taking kicked in occasionally, with traders warily eyeing escalating threats from North Korea, but the losses were limited by the weak yen and a series of record closes on Wall Street.

The markets soon gained momentum as the dollar approached the 100-yen mark following the Bank of Japan's sweeping monetary easing last week.

The greenback stood at 99.40 yen on Friday afternoon in Tokyo, compared with 99.73 yen in New York on Thursday, where it hit 99.95 yen at one point. The dollar last topped 100 yen in April 2009.

Newly appointed Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda has said he will double Japan's money supply over the next two years to end the deflation that has plagued the nation for roughly 15 years.