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Nikkei average ends lower after directionless moves


The key Nikkei average closed lower on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Tuesday after directionless moves amid a dearth of fresh incentives, with many investors sitting on the fence prior to holidays in Japan and abroad.

The 225-issue Nikkei average dropped 29.32 points, or 0.16 percent, to end at 18,886.70. On Monday, the key market gauge fell 70.78 points.

But the Topix index of all first-section issues climbed 2.32 points, or 0.15 percent, to close at 1,533.60, after falling 5.82 points the previous day.

Both indexes opened slightly higher following an overnight rise in New York stocks. After the initial buying ran its course, however, the indexes lost steam temporarily in the morning.

Active buying was held in check as the Tokyo market will be closed Wednesday for a national holiday and many foreign stock markets will be shut Friday for the Christmas holiday, brokers said.

Trading became increasingly slow in the afternoon with the Nikkei average showing only small ups and downs around the previous day’s closing level in the absence of fresh incentives.

There was a sense that Japanese stocks were undervalued after the Nikkei average lost 437 points in the two sessions through Monday, but buybacks and buying on dips did not intensify in the absence of buying clues, brokers said.

Investors found it difficult to tilt their positions drastically also due to downside risks over crude oil prices, an official at a domestic securities firm said.

In New York on Monday, the key West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures contract briefly fell below 34 dollars per barrel for the first time in some six years and 10 months.

“Investors have already gone into Christmas holiday mode. The Nikkei is likely to move narrowly around 19,000 for the rest of this year, and retaking the 20,000 line would be delayed to New Year or later,” said Hideyuki Suzuki, head of investment market research department at SBI Securities Co.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,004 to 809 in the TSE’s first section, while 120 issues were unchanged.

Volume decreased to 1.97 billion shares from Monday’s 2.36 billion shares.

Electronics maker Toshiba plummeted 12.28 percent on massive sell-offs reflecting worries about its future course, although the scandal-tainted company announced structural reforms on Monday, brokers said. Industry peers Sony, Panasonic and Sharp were also downbeat.

Also on the minus side were mobile carrier SoftBank Group, clothing retailer Fast Retailing and megabank group Sumitomo Mitsui.

Oriental Land, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, climbed 2.22 percent on hopes for growth in demand, reflecting a view that people may refrain from traveling abroad due to fears about terror attacks.

General contractor Taisei rose following news that Japan selected the design for its new National Stadium jointly proposed by Taisei and architect Kengo Kuma.

Automaker Toyota and camera maker Canon drew buybacks.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average rose 30 points to end at 18,870.