For a third straight session on Friday, Japan's Nikkei share average fell as investors pocketed gains from the strongest first quarter rally in 24 years as the market waited on key global events next week for direction.
The Nikkei .N225 ended the quarter up 19.3 percent, despite the dip, which was its best quarterly performance since the second quarter of 2009. This was attributed primarily to robust U.S. economic data and accommodative central bank policies helping drive a rally of global equities.
The Nikkei closed down 0.3 percent at 10,083.56, moving further from a one-year closing high of 10,255.15.
"I took some profits on some financial stocks, such as the megabanks and securities firms this month. I am just waiting for the weakness to buy again and the new earnings guidance from companies for the fiscal year 2012/13," said Yasuo Sakuma, portfolio manager at Bayview Asset Management. "I am gradually increasing the positions on small and mid-caps," Sakuma said.
"European Union discussions on the scale of the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), the Spanish government's 2012 budget plan and the China PMI figure ... ahead of this, as well as all the U.S. data, the market is cautious," said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, general manager of investment and research at SMBC Friend Securities. "But overall sentiment remains strong and it doesn't look like the Nikkei will break below 10,000," he said.