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Tokyo stocks recoup losses to end higher

JIJI

Stocks wiped out losses to close higher on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Tuesday, aided by buybacks of undervalued issues.

The 225-issue Nikkei average advanced 108.88 points, or 0.58 percent, to finish at 18,982.23. On Monday, the key market gauge rose 104.29 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues ended up 14.17 points, or 0.93 percent, at 1,543.39, after gaining 13.03 points the previous day.

Tokyo stocks opened slightly weaker following a Wall Street sell-off overnight on the back of a plunge in crude oil prices.

But after the initial selling ran its course, stocks gradually recouped the losses in the morning session. The market’s downside was limited in the absence of active sellers prior to the year’s end, brokers said.

In the afternoon, investors moved to buy back undervalued stocks, pushing up the Nikkei average by more than 110 points at one point.

A bank-affiliated securities firm official said that hopes for higher prices on the final trading day for this year helped lift the day’s market. Tokyo stocks tend to end the final session higher, the official explained.

“Although U.S. equities were downbeat on lower oil prices, a risk-averse mood did not spread in the Tokyo market thanks to the dollar’s relatively stable moves,” an official of another securities firm said.

In addition, Hiroaki Hiwada, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said Southeast Asian markets’ firmness encouraged individual investors to buy medium- and small-cap stocks.

“Players stepped up buying as the Nikkei average came close to 19,000, anticipating the average’s further rise to end the year above the threshold,” Hiwada noted.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,557 to 277 in the TSE’s first section, while 101 issues were unchanged.

Volume rose modestly to 1.58 billion shares, from Monday’s 1.56 billion shares.

Automaker Fuji Heavy, electronic parts makers Murata Manufacturing and Alps, and electronics giant Toshiba were buoyant.

Defensive issues, such as drug makers Takeda, Shionogi and Ono Pharmaceutical, also attracted buying.

Other major winners included airlines ANA and JAL, megabanks Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui, insurer Tokio Marine, general contractor Kumagai Gumi, and game maker Nintendo.

On the other hand, automaker Toyota, clothing store chain operator Fast Retailing and mobile phone carrier SoftBank Group were sold.

Japan Post Holdings and its two financial units were pressured by selling to lock in gains.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average climbed 80 points to close at 18,980.