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Lackluster Nikkei logs small drop

JIJI

Stocks ended slightly lower Wednesday as trading lacked direction amid a dearth of fresh incentives.

The 225-issue Nikkei average closed down 15.86 points at 15,379.30. On Tuesday, the key market gauge climbed 98.34 points.

The Topix dipped 0.09 point to end at 1,273.59 after rising 8.22 points Tuesday.

Stocks here opened lower following a lackluster performance of U.S. equities overnight.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony Tuesday was within market expectations and had little impact on stock prices, brokers said.

After the initial selling ran its course, the key indexes popped up into positive territory thanks to buying of undervalued issues, brokers said.

For the rest of session, the Nikkei mostly showed small ups and downs around the previous day’s closing level in the absence of fresh market-moving factors, brokers said.

An official at a major brokerage firm expected that favorable Chinese economic data, including gross domestic product for April-June and retail sales for June, released Wednesday morning, might give a boost to Tokyo stocks.

However, the indicators had only a small impact on the market, although their readings were moderately stronger than market estimates, brokers said.

“Recent Chinese data have been better than market forecasts, so I believe investors did not consider the latest data to be a particularly positive incentive as they were not far better than estimates,” said Masashi Oguchi of Mito Securities Co.’s investment information department.

“Today, investors may have thought it right to avoid taking risks prior to the earnings reporting season (in Japan),” which will fully kick off later this month, Oguchi said.

Market participants are keenly awaiting additional factors to push the Nikkei up to 15,500 or above, an official at a bank-affiliated brokerage firm said.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 952 to 721 in the first section, while 142 issues were unchanged.

Volume decreased to 1.849 billion shares from Tuesday’s 2.092 billion.

Nonbank lender Aiful came under profit-taking. Peers Acom and Orient Corp. retreated as well.

Tire maker Bridgestone was also hit by selling to cash in gains after the previous day’s surge.

Insurer Dai-ichi Life and megabank group Mitsubishi UFJ fell.

Also on the minus side were construction machinery maker Komatsu and telecommunications carriers NTT and KDDI.

On the other hand, JX Holdings gained ground after a newspaper report Wednesday that JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., a unit of the oil distributor, plans to establish 100 hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles by around fiscal 2018.

Mainstay issues, including automakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda, as well as camera maker Canon, were robust.