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Tokyo stocks end moderately higher on buying by individuals, hedge funds


Stocks managed to end higher on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday, underpinned by buying from individuals and hedge funds, after moving in negative territory for most of the day’s trading.

The 225-issue Nikkei average rose 20.00 points, or 0.10 percent, to end at 19,879.81, the highest closing since Aug. 20. On Thursday, the key market gauge advanced 210.63 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues finished up 2.80 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,603.18, after rising 13.85 points the previous day.

Mainstay issues such as automakers and major banks met with selling from the outset, following a modest fall on Wall Street overnight and the yen’s appreciation against the dollar.

Although stocks showed some resilience in early afternoon trading on the Bank of Japan’s possible purchases of exchange-traded funds, players stepped up selling later to take profits and adjust their positions prior to Japan’s three-day weekend, brokers said.

The market, however, started to gather steam in the late afternoon thanks to individual investors’ enhanced moves to buy dips and purchases by hedge funds, and popped into the sunny side just before the day’s closing.

After vigorously buying newly listed Japan Post Holdings and its two units until recently, “individual investors shifted their interest to domestic and inbound demand-related issues,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Okasan Securities Co.’s Investment Strategy Department.

Brokers said large-cap issues were sold by foreign investors in the morning but they were bought back in the afternoon by bargain hunters.

“Backed by strong buying interest, the Nikkei is on its way to retaking 20,000,” Ishiguro said.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,139 to 623 in the TSE’s first section, while 153 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 1.84 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.08 billion shares.

Drug retailer Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings shot up on sales growth hopes following a newspaper report Friday that the government plans to allow income tax deductions for volume purchasers of over-the-counter drugs.

Among popular domestic demand-oriented issues were Japan Tobacco, drugmaker Astellas, retailer Seven & I Holdings and confectionery-maker Meiji Holdings.

By contrast, automaker Toyota, mega-bank groups Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui, and electronics-makers Sony and Hitachi were sold along with other large-cap names.

Also on the minus side were realtors Sumitomo Realty and Mitsui Fudosan and clothing retailer Fast Retailing.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average climbed 10 points to end at 19,890.