Stocks snapped their four-session winning streak Thursday after being weighed down by selling to cash in on gains.
The 225-issue Nikkei average shed 29.51 points, or 0.13 percent, to end at 22,764.68 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It rose 96.83 points on Wednesday.
The Topix index of all first-section issues closed down 1.62 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 1,749.59 after climbing 6.16 points the previous day.
Stocks got off to a firmer start after the Dow Jones industrial average advanced for five straight sessions through Wednesday.
But the market soon came under pressure from selling to lock in profits, with the Topix dipping into negative territory at one point in the morning session.
Although the tech-heavy gauge quickly swung back into the sunny side and the Nikkei gained over 130 points briefly later in the morning, both key market gauges sank into negative territory in the early afternoon due to renewed profit-taking pressure, market sources said.
They fluctuated around the previous day’s closing levels for the rest of the session amid a dearth of major trading incentives, according to the sources.
“Some investors sold stocks after the Nikkei approached 23,000” in the morning session, Hiroaki Kuramochi, chief market analyst at Saxo Bank Securities Ltd., said.
Kuramochi also cited hedge funds’ sales of clothing retailer Fast Retailing and other heavyweight components of the Nikkei average as a negative factor in the market.
Thursday’s downturn came after buybacks ran their course, said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co.
Meanwhile, an official of a midsize securities firm said expectations for strong earnings reports from major companies later this month supported the market’s downside.
Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,086 to 942 in the TSE’s first section, while 74 issues were unchanged.
Volume grew to 1.206 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.146 billion shares.
Fast Retailing closed 2.25 percent lower following its recent surge.
Cosmetics maker Shiseido and retailer FamilyMart Uny Holdings were among other major losers.
By contrast, oil companies Idemitsu, JXTG, Cosmo Energy and Showa Shell were upbeat due to higher crude oil prices.
Also on the plus side were drug maker Eisai and air conditioner producer Daikin.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average sagged 10 points to 22,790.