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Nikkei ekes out modest gain amid lack of direction

JIJI

Stocks gained ground in directionless trading Wednesday, helped by purchases of the Nikkei 225 average’s heavily weighed components.

The Nikkei rose 25.00 points to end at 15,820.96. On Tuesday, the key market gauge climbed 154.28 points.

The Topix grew 3.68 points to finish the day at 1,299.63 after rising 2.09 points Tuesday.

Stocks opened on a weak note, weighed down by profit-taking after the previous day’s sharp rise, brokers said.

The Nikkei showed small ups and downs around the previous day’s closing level for the rest of the morning session, caught in a tug of war between selling to cash in gains and buying on dips, they said.

The benchmark index extended losses in the afternoon as the yen strengthened against other major currencies after the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy intact at its policy-setting meeting, but it wiped out the losses toward the close.

Some investors who expected the BOJ to take an additional easing policy sold shares after the bank’s announcement, brokers said.

Analysts agree that both the policy meeting’s outcome and the BOJ’s semiannual Outlook for Economic Activity and Prices report, also released Wednesday, were within market expectations.

Brokers partly attributed the afternoon tumble, which pushed down the Nikkei by more than 150 points, to position-adjustment selling and speculative selling by investors who had been waiting for an opportunity to sell stocks.

“Market sentiment itself still remains firm considering the Nikkei’s rebound to recoup losses and advance into positive territory,” said Nobuyuki Fujimoto, market analyst at SBI Securities Co.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 851 to 759 in the first section, while 168 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 2.664 billion shares from 2.376 billion Tuesday.

Game maker Nintendo attracted buybacks to jump 4.55 percent after a recent fall.

JGBs get a boost

Japanese government bonds gained ground Wednesday as the stock market suffered a brief tumble before regaining ground.

The lead March futures contract on 10-year JGBs finished up 0.12 point at 144.15 after jumping to 144.23 at one point in the afternoon on stock falls after the Bank of Japan kept its policy intact.