• Kyodo


The Nikkei stock index finished slightly lower Friday but at its highest close in 20 years as the final trading day of the year saw investors move to lock in gains.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 30.77 points, or 0.16 percent, from Thursday to close at 19,114.37. The index broke its previous year-end close for the fifth year in a row and ended up 0.4 percent for 2016.

The broader Topix index of all first section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 0.22 points, or 0.01 percent, higher at 1,518.61.

Decliners were led by electricity and gas, mining, and iron and steel issues.

The Nikkei stock index briefly fell below 19,000 for the first time in three weeks as traders took money off the table.

“Investors moved to take profits from recent gains” made since hopes grew for the economic policies of the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, said Chihiro Ota, general manager of investment research at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

The Tokyo market had been well supported since Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 raised hopes that he will move to cut taxes, boost infrastructure spending and promote deregulation.

Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., said sentiment was underpinned by expectations for purchases of exchange-traded funds by the Bank of Japan.

Ichikawa said currency movements had an important effect on the stock market in 2016. Tokyo shares went on a roller-coaster ride, with the Nikkei starting above 17,000, but slipping below 15,000 in February and June, before ending above 19,000 in the end.

Tokyo stocks fell sharply early in the year amid concern over the slowdown in China and slumping oil prices.

The BOJ’s adoption of a negative interest rate policy in February also hit the financial sector by raising concerns about the impact on profits.

The yen gained ground amid risk aversion and its rise against the dollar weighed on sentiment by hitting export-related shares, Ichikawa said.

“External factors such as Brexit and the U.S. presidential election also jolted the market,” Ichikawa added.

The Nikkei index plunged over 1,000 points in late June, its sharpest fall in more than 16 years, after Britain voted in the British exit referendum to leave the European Union.

But hope helped Tokyo shares gather steam in the last two months of the year. Investors are keeping a close eye on what Trump’s administration will do.

The Tokyo stock market reopens on Jan. 4.

On the first section, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,071 to 768 on Friday, while 164 ended the day unchanged.

Trading volume on the main section totaled about 1.667 billion shares, down from about 2.249 billion shares Thursday.

Brokers said exporters were among the biggest gainers in 2016 due to the relatively weak yen.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.