(AFP) Japan's Nikkei stock index dropped 1.96 percent by the lunch break on Monday, hit by a stronger yen and profit-taking ahead of key US economic data due later this week.
The Nikkei fell 166.44 points to 8,345.83, despite a 1.17 percent rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street Friday.
"It's time for another downturn," said Hideaki Higashi, a strategist at SMBC Friend Securities.
"Investors are selling, anticipating a correction after the string of advances," he said.
The market was waiting to see whether recent economic measures announced by the United States and other countries around the world work, Higashi said.
Investors were also waiting for interest rate decisions due this week in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Concerns have also deepened about the health of the Japanese economy following a slew of gloomy data released Friday showing drops in factory output and consumer spending.
Japanese media said Prime Minister Taro Aso would ask business leaders Monday to raise salaries and refrain from job cuts to boost domestic consumption.
But Higashi said the request was likely to be ignored, with some companies even cancelling the recruitment of new graduates.
"Companies can't raise salaries when a high yen and other adverse winds are blowing," he said.