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Nikkei edges lower on profit-taking

JIJI

The Nikkei 225 average closed marginally lower Tuesday, falling for the fifth straight session due to profit-taking after the surge through early last week.

The key market gauge inched down 0.98 point to close at 22,380.01. On Monday, it plunged 300.43 points.

The Topix, which covers all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, closed 4.62 points, or 0.26 percent, lower at 1,778.87 after falling 16.95 points Monday.

The market got off to a weak start, hurt by selling to lock in profits, brokers said.

But the Nikkei average soon recouped the losses and moved into positive territory thanks to buying on dips after falling for four sessions in a row. It briefly rose over 150 points in the morning.

Gains were cut in the afternoon and the Nikkei slipped into negative territory just before the close, battered by a wave of selling to cash in gains, brokers said.

The Topix fluctuated close to the previous day’s closing level for most of the session amid a dearth of major trading incentives.

“The market’s topside was limited after the Nikkei rose above 22,500,” said Hiroaki Hiwada, a strategist at Toyo Securities Co.

Hiwada said the market is still “in a correction phase” after the recent surge.

“Selling to lock in profits continued” throughout Tuesday’s session, an official of a major securities firm said.

Apart from such selling, investors traded “mainly individual issues after checking corporate earnings reports” the official said, noting that the market had few other major trading incentives.

Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,338 to 622 in the first section, while 75 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 1.735 billion shares from 1.565 billion Monday.

General contractor Kajima lost 2.29 percent, dampened by its weaker-than-expected consolidated operating profit estimate for the year through next March, brokers said.

Other major losers included Osaka Gas and online shopping site operator Rakuten.

By contrast, machinery maker Ebara closed 8.35 percent higher after hitting a listing-to-date high of ¥4,460. The issued attracted purchases after announcing on Monday that its operating profit for the six months through September jumped 92.5 percent from a year before to ¥5,116 million, brokers said.

Also on the plus side were frozen food maker Nichirei and electronic parts producer Rohm.