Business / Financial Markets | TSE DATA & REPORT

Nikkei ends slightly higher amid mixed earnings reports

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei average closed marginally higher on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday, as investors weighed mixed results from a slew of major Japanese companies amid the earnings reporting season.

The 225-issue Nikkei average gained 14.90 points, or 0.07 percent, to end at 20,788.39, after rising 216.95 points on Thursday.

But the Topix index of all first-section issues closed down 2.86 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,564.63. It gained 16.73 points the previous day.

Buying outpaced selling in early trading on the back of expectations for easing of trade tensions between the United States and China, briefly pushing up the Nikkei average more than 150 points, brokers said.

Both indexes lost upward momentum later, however, as selling to lock in profits gained strength.

Throughout the session, the market saw crosscurrents of buying and selling in response to good and bad earnings reports from major firms, brokers said.

“Foreign investors appeared to step in to buy and sell in response to earnings releases,” an official of a Japanese brokerage firm said, noting a pickup in trading volume.

Volume increased to 1.42 billion shares from 1.36 billion shares on Thursday.

The U.S.-China ministerial-level trade talks ended in Washington on Thursday. “While progress has been made, much work remains to be done,” the White House said in a statement.

Optimism about U.S.-China trade continued in the market as the two sides avoided any negative escalation in their trade war, brokers said.

Mitsuo Shimizu, chief strategist at Aizawa Securities Co., said some investors retreated to the sidelines ahead of the weekend and the release of the U.S. government’s jobs data for January later on Friday.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,268 to 793 in the TSE’s first section, while 66 issues were unchanged.

Murata Manufacturing jumped 8.46 percent after the electronic parts maker on Thursday announced double-digit increases in sales and operating profit for April-December.

Kose gained 3.06 percent a day after the cosmetics maker announced brisk earnings.

Other major winners included messaging app provider Line and clothing retailer Fast Retailing.

By contrast, Nintendo plunged 9.19 percent after the game maker revised down on Thursday its global sales target for the Nintendo Switch console for fiscal 2018 from 20 million units to 17 million.

Zozo tumbled 4.70 percent a day after the operator of online fashion marketplace Zozotown lowered profit forecasts for the year to March 2019.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average slumped 30 points to end at 20,720.