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Tokyo stocks mixed by break

Tokyo stocks were mixed Thursday morning on a stronger yen and profit-taking after the benchmark Nikkei 225 index soared to its highest close since September 2008.

The Nikkei shed 0.78 percent, or 89.49 points, at 11,374.26 by the break, while the Topix index of all first-section shares inched 0.03 percent higher, or 0.27 points, at 969.09.

The dip in the Nikkei -- which has been soaring in recent months after a new Japanese government swept to power with pledges to fix the long-suffering economy -- came as investors cashed in from day-earlier gains.

On Wednesday, the headline index jumped 3.77 percent to levels last seen over four years ago, and just weeks after the 2008 collapse of Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers, which sparked a global panic and huge sell-off in stocks.

In the months that followed, the Nikkei plunged to hit its bottom of 7,054.98 on March 10, 2009.

"Buy catalysts are lacking, especially with the yen retracing lost ground and overnight US markets little changed," said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.

Wall Street made little headway in a choppy day of trading, with some positive earnings reports supplying a measure of support.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.05 percent to 13,986.52, while the tech-rich Nasdaq slipped 0.10 percent to 3,168.48.

Japanese core machinery orders, released Thursday, offered some good news with a better-than-expected 2.8 percent in December on-month, according to the Cabinet Office.

Machinery orders are widely regarded as a leading indicator of corporate capital spending and are watched for movements that may reflect the outlook for the broader economy.

On currency markets, the euro slipped to 126.17 yen from 126.46 yen and to $1.3503 from $1.3519 in New York on Wednesday.

The dollar weakened to 93.43 yen from 93.57 yen in US trading, halting the Japanese currency's steep slide after it plunged to its lowest level in nearly three years against the greenback a day earlier.

In Tokyo stock trading, Mazda shares soared 14.48 percent to 324 yen after the automaker said Wednesday that it had swung back to a profit in the nine months to December, while it also boosted its full-year earnings forecast.

Sony was up 3.17 percent to 1,528 yen in the morning as the struggling consumer electronics giant reports its earnings later in the day, while camera and copier-maker Canon slipped 2.78 percent to 3,320 yen.

Nikon dived 18.22 percent to 2,158 yen after releasing weaker earnings Wednesday and warning it was chopping its full-year profit forecast.

"Nikon's poor results and forecast cut really took the market by surprise," CLSA equity strategist Nicholas Smith told Dow Jones Newswires.