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Nikkei barely ekes out gain for third straight rise

JIJI

The Nikkei 225 average ended marginally higher Wednesday after losing earlier gains as investors sold shares to lock in profits following the sharp rally earlier this week.

Rising for the third straight session, the Nikkei closed up 1.71 points at 14,425.07, the highest closing level since Aug. 2. On Tuesday, the key market gauge jumped 218.13 points.

But the Topix fell by 0.97 point to end at 1,189.25 after advancing 17.22 points Tuesday.

The market got off to a positive start on the heels of a continued rise in the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed at a three-week high Tuesday, as wariness over the Syrian situation eased.

After the initial buying ran its course, the Nikkei trimmed gains.

But the market soon regained upward momentum, helped partly by U.S. President Barrack Obama’s address in which he said he has asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote to authorize U.S. military action against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons, brokers said.

The yen briefly weakened past 100.50 to the dollar in Tokyo trading following Obama’s address, helping the Nikkei to extend gains to some 138 points in the early afternoon.

In late trading, however, the key market yardstick gave up most of the gains as profit-taking became dominant.

At one point the Nikkei had risen 562.55 points, or 4.06 percent, over the past two sessions, buoyed by Tokyo’s selection as the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games. Some technical indicators signaled that the market was overheating, brokers said.

Some domestic demand-related issues, notably shares of the major general contractors that led the rally in anticipation of an increase of infrastructure work for the Olympics, met with selling to lock in profits due to worries their stock had risen too high, brokers said.

Market watchers are paying attention to whether trading value in the TSE’s first section will stay above ¥2 trillion, a level that indicates active trading, sources said.

JGBs edge higher

Japanese government bonds recouped earlier losses Wednesday to end slightly higher as stocks cut earlier gains.

The lead December futures contract on 10-year JGBs meanwhile ended up 0.03 point from Tuesday at 143.56. Volume dwindled to 24,332 contracts from 40,433.