TOKYO, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index ended lower on Wednesday, snapping a four-day winning streak, as investors took profits amid concerns over the U.S. debt ceiling issue, with exporters being hit by a firm yen.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 440.28 points, or 1.41 percent, from Tuesday to close the day at 30,887.88.
The broader Topix index, meanwhile, lost 28.59 points, or 1.32 percent, at 2,130.63.
Investors moved to lock in gains with the yen's rise against the U.S. dollar a cue to sell, local brokers said, with exporter issues reliant on a weaker yen to boost overseas profits when repatriated losing ground.
"Investors were waiting to sell stocks and the yen's strength became a trigger," Jun Morita, general manager of the research department at Chibagin Asset Management, was quoted as saying.
Dealers here also said concerns continued over the U.S. debt ceiling issue and an unprecedented default, as wrangling has persisted ahead of a congressional vote despite a provisional deal being reached.
They added that should the deal pass Congress before the June 5 deadline, investor attention would switch back to the U.S. Federal Reserve and its aggressive rate hike policy to tame inflation.
"Once that issue is over, we should see a return to normal and a certain sense of security. In that case, the stock market will return to movements based on the next U.S. interest rate hike and the state of the economy," Masahiro Yamaguchi, head of investment research at SMBC Trust Bank, was quoted as saying.
Chip-linked issues came under selling pressure following recent gains, with chip-testing equipment maker Advantest down 1 percent, while chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron lost 2 percent.
Exporter issues weighed on the yen's rise, with Toyota Motor reversing 1.6 percent, while Mazda Motor skidded 3.1 percent.
Nikkei heavyweight Fast Retailing, the owner of the Uniqlo clothing chain, dragged the broader market lower, dropping 1.1 percent.
Toyota Motor subsidiary Hino Motors was a notable winner, however, surging 12.3 percent, after announcing a merger deal with Daimler's majority-owned Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. to jointly produce truck and commercial vehicles to better compete in the truck freight business.
By the close of play, wholesale trade, iron and steel, and mining stocks comprised those that gained the most.
The turnover on the Prime Market on the third trading day of the week came to 6,955.20 billion yen (49.72 billion U.S. dollars).