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Lacking direction, Nikkei logs a minor increase

JIJI

Stocks ended directionless trading slightly higher Thursday, buoyed by purchases thanks to the yen’s weakness.

The Nikkei 225 average closed up 10.95 points at 14,064.82. On Wednesday, the key market gauge climbed 75.43 points to finish above 14,000 for the first time in three weeks. The Topix rose 1.54 points to end at 1,157.84.

Both indexes extended their winning streak to a fourth session.

Prices opened higher on the heels of an overnight rise in New York equities stemming from brisk U.S. new auto sales for August.

After the initial buying ran its course, however, the key indexes lost stream and slipped into negative territory, pressured by profit-taking after the recent surge.

The Bank of Japan upgraded its economic assessment at its two-day Policy Board meeting that ended Thursday, saying the economy is recovering moderately. But its impact on stock prices was limited as the market had already factored in the upward revision, brokers said.

The key indexes moved up and down without showing a clear direction in the afternoon, caught in a tug of war between buying of export-oriented names on the back of the yen’s weakening against the dollar and selling to cash in gains.

“Technical charts indicate that the Tokyo market’s trend has changed,” said Kenichi Hirano, adviser and market analyst at Tachibana Securities Co.

The Nikkei is currently above its 25- and 75-day moving averages, which stood at 13,746.04 and 13,786.88 as of Thursday.

The global economic outlook was brightened by easing worries over the Syrian situation, as well as signs of economic recovery in China and Europe, brokers said.

But the market’s lack of direction Thursday reflected “investors’ hesitation to step up buying before a series of key events and economic indicators,” Hirano said.

Such events and data include U.S. government jobs data for August, due out Friday, and the selection of the 2020 Summer Olympic host city at an International Olympic Committee meeting on Saturday.

JGBs hold steady

Japanese government bond futures ended a little higher Thursday after showing minor fluctuations around the previous day’s closing level.

The lead September contract on 10-year JGBs closed up 0.01 point from Wednesday at 143.98. Volume increased to 37,018 contracts from 25,431.