December 20, 2017 / 2:54 AM / 6 months ago

Nikkei falls as construction sector weighs; Japan Display jumps

TOKYO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell on Wednesday morning as construction shares continued to be battered amid a suspected bid-rigging scandal, while Japan Display jumped on a media report the firm is discussing an investment from three Chinese panel makers.

The Nikkei share average dropped 0.1 percent to 22,838.52 in midmorning trade.

The construction sector slipped 1.0 percent and was the worst sectoral performer again, with Taisei Corp diving more than 4 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the construction firm had asked rival Obayashi Corp to refrain from bidding on a project for magnetic levitation (maglev) trains.

The newspaper said that Taisei had asked Obayashi not to bid for tunnel work in the $80 billion high-speed rail project, saying it and another competitor, Kajima Corp, planned to take the project. The work was eventually awarded to Taisei and Kajima.

Tokyo prosecutors are investigating the three firms, as well as Shimizu Corp, for suspected antitrust breaches relating to the high-profile maglev project. The four companies have said they would cooperate fully with authorities, while declining to provide further details.

Obayashi skidded 0.8 percent and Kajima stumbled 2.0 percent, while Shimizu dropped 2.2 percent.

Real estate shares also underperformed. Mitsui Fudosan declined 1.6 percent and Mitsubishi Estate shed 1.4 percent.

Financial firms, on the other hand, took heart from higher U.S. yields and bucked the broad market. These companies invest in high-yielding products such as foreign bonds. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group advanced 1.6 percent and Dai-ichi Life Holdings rose 1.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Japan Display Inc jumped more than 6 percent after Kyodo reported that it is discussing an investment of more than 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) from three Chinese panel makers including BOE Technology Group Co. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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