Business / Financial Markets | TSE DATA & REPORT

Tokyo stocks fall amid wait-and-see mood

JIJI

Stocks fell back in thin trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with investors refraining from active trading ahead of major events overseas.

The 225-issue Nikkei average lost 108.10 points, or 0.52 percent, to end at 20,556.54. Tuesday, the key market gauge edged up 15.64 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues finished down 6.33 points, or 0.41 percent, at 1,550.76, after rising 1.58 points the previous day.

After getting off to a firmer start, the market came under pressure of position-squaring selling by investors who were waiting to see the outcomes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy-setting meeting ending later in the day and the ministerial-level trade talks between the United States and China in Washington through Thursday, traders said.

“Few investors boosted trading today,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.

Players found it difficult to move before watching reactions of Wall Street and the currency market to the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, he added.

Ahead of the start of the two-day FOMC meeting, speculation grew that Fed policymakers would discuss slowing or ending the U.S. central bank’s move to shrink its balance sheet.

Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Naito Securities Co., said investors may continue sitting on the fence this week, pointing out that major economic indicators are scheduled to be released Friday, such as the U.S. government’s jobs data for January.

A market source noted that if some progress is announced after the U.S.-China trade talks, including an agreement to hold a summit, it will likely trigger stock buying.

Falling issues overwhelmed rising ones 1,730 to 351 in the TSE’s first section, while 47 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 1.44 billion shares from 1.18 billion shares Tuesday.

Daiwa Securities Group Inc. tumbled 6.22 percent after the company announced disappointing consolidated earnings for April-December on Tuesday.

Akebono Brake Industry Co. plunged 18.22 percent following its announcement Wednesday morning that the major auto parts maker’s request for the start of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, procedures for out-of-court business reconstruction was accepted.

Other major losers included clothing retailer Fast Retailing Co. and automaker Suzuki Motor Corp.

By contrast, electronic parts makers related to Apple Inc. gained ground as the U.S. technology giant’s sales forecast for January-March, released Tuesday, fell within market expectations. Taiyo Yuden Co. jumped 4.23 percent and Murata Manufacturing Co. rose 2.57 percent.

Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. gained 2.07 percent thanks to its brisk earnings in April-December.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average slumped 20 points to end at 20,610.