Stocks turned lower Tuesday amid a dearth of major fresh trading incentives.
The Nikkei 225 average fell 59.88 points, or 0.30 percent, to close at 19,996.01. On Monday, the key market gauge rose 103.56 points.
The Topix, which covers all Tokyo Stock Exchange first-section issues, finished 3.95 points, or 0.24 percent, lower at 1,635.32 after climbing 7.82 points Monday.
Buying and selling were largely mixed as market players were inactive in general, brokers said.
The Nikkei’s slide below 20,000 was caused by the strengthening of the yen. But some investors hunted for companies that posted brisk earnings, brokers said.
The trading lull came as “only a small number of participants were in the market,” said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc.
Although individual investors were active in trading, foreign players seemed to be quiet, an official of a bank-affiliated securities firm said.
But the situation in the market “seems secure,” Fujii said. He said many key companies, including automakers, have announced brisk earnings and that no fresh selling incentives can be found for the time being.
“Considering the good economic fundamentals, stock prices may gradually start rising,” Fujii said, indicating expectations that the Nikkei average will get out of the current narrow range around 20,000 late this month.
Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,023 to 866 in the TSE’s first section, while 133 issues were unchanged.
Volume rose to 1.652 billion shares from Monday’s 1.505 billion.
Textile maker Nisshinbo Holdings, contractor Obayashi, drugmaker Otsuka Holdings and insurer Tokio Marine were hit by selling on disappointing earnings and estimates.
Other major losers included Suntory Beverage & Food and electronics maker Pioneer.
By contrast, steel manufacturer Japan Steel Works, game maker KLab and heavy machinery maker IHI were buoyant after announcing bullish earnings.
Alconix, a trader of nonferrous metal products, jumped 11.80 percent after it announced a stock split on Tuesday.