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Nikkei fails to sustain gains, ends 92 points down

JIJI

Stocks erased early gains Friday to sink into negative territory again as investors moved to adjust their positions and lock in profits in the final session of the week and the month.

The Nikkei 225 average lost 92.53 points to end at 14,914.53 after the key market yardstick tumbled 376.85 points Thursday.

The Topix finished 3.45 points lower at 1,220.64 a day after falling 32.09 points.

The market got off to a firmer start thanks to buybacks and buying on dips, following an overnight rise on Wall Street. The Nikkei jumped more than 130 points soon after the opening bell. The Dow Jones industrial average rebounded more than 100 points on better than expected U.S. gross domestic product data and upbeat corporate earnings reports.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday that GDP expanded an annualized 3.2 percent in October-December from the previous quarter, beating analysts’ median forecast of 3.0 percent growth.

But the market lost steam after the initial buying ran its course and bowed to heavy pressure in afternoon trading from futures-led selling as well as position-adjustment selling ahead of the weekend and at the end of the month, brokers said. The Nikkei gave up more than 240 points before recouping some of the losses toward the close.

Cash stocks were also weighed by unwinding of arbitrage positions, brokers said.

Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said investors tend to rush to secure profits quickly, pointing out those who bought on dips in early trading after Thursday’s sell-off turned sellers only in the afternoon. There was almost no month-end window-dressing buying, he added.

But players responded positively to announcements of robust earnings by such companies as Japan Tobacco, brokers said.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 948 to 694 in the first section, while 138 issues were unchanged.

Volume edged up to 3.080 billion shares from 3.041 billion Thursday.

JGB futures rise

Japanese government bond futures rose slightly Friday as Tokyo stocks fell back in the afternoon.

The lead March contract on 10-year JGBs closed up 0.02 point from Thursday at 144.74. Volume grew to 26,411 contracts from 24,160.