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Nikkei declines in thin holiday trading


Stocks fell further Friday in thin Tokyo trading, with many investors off for Christmas.

The Nikkei average shed 20.63 points, or 0.11 percent, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to close at 18,769.06. On Thursday, it lost 97.01 points.

The Topix ended down 7.43 points, or 0.49 percent, at 1,516.19, after falling 9.98 points the previous day.

After opening slightly higher, Tokyo stocks were directionless around the previous day’s closing levels. Buying on dips and buybacks helped lift the market at some points, but selling outpaced buying for most of the day with no major impact from overseas investors, who usually lead the Tokyo market, brokers said.

“A selling mood spread easily among investors after recent falls in Tokyo stocks,” a bank-affiliated securities official said.

Investor sentiment was also dampened by data showing sluggish household spending in November, released just before the opening bell, an investment management firm official said.

Average household spending fell 2.9 percent from a year ago in real terms, down for the third straight month, against an average forecast of 2.0 percent by 20 economic research institutes surveyed by Jiji Press.

“The day’s trading value was much smaller than usual amid the holiday period, but the situation is likely to improve next week,” Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Naito Securities Co.

“After coming back to the market, overseas investors are expected to place purchases, reckoning that Tokyo stocks are undervalued,” Tabei added.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,362 to 509 in the TSE’s first section, while 65 issues were unchanged.

Volume dwindled to 1.912 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.987 billion shares.

Power firms, such as Tepco and Kansai Electric, met with heavy selling after convenience store chain operator Lawson and trading house Mitsubishi said they will launch electricity retail sales, market sources said.

A higher yen weighed on exporters, such as automakers Toyota and Mazda, industrial robot maker Fanuc and camera producer Canon.

Tire producer Bridgestone was weaker as investors grew concerned about an intensifying bidding war over the U.S. auto parts retailer Pep Boys, brokers said.

Other major losers included banking groups Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho, consumer loan provider Aiful and online shopping mall operator Rakuten.

By contrast, electronics parts producers Murata Manufacturing and Apls Electric were buoyant after recent falls.

Nippon Suisan attracted hefty purchases after major securities firms revised their target stock prices upward on the fishery product maker, brokers said.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average shed 90 points to finish at 18,720.