Business / Financial Markets | TSE DATA & REPORT

Tokyo stocks edge down amid profit-taking after two-day rally

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei average closed slightly lower in lackluster trading Thursday, pressured by selling to lock in profits.

The 225-issue Nikkei average fell 4.77 points, or 0.02 percent, to end at 21,139.71 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On Wednesday, the key market gauge jumped 280.27 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues was up 0.48 point, or 0.03 percent, at 1,589.81. It climbed 16.73 points the previous day.

After getting off to a firmer start reflecting higher U.S. stock prices and the yen’s fall against the dollar, the Tokyo market came under profit-taking pressure that grew following a two-day rally.

But the market’s downside was supported by a weaker yen, allowing the Nikkei average to hover around the previous day’s closing level throughout the day’s trading, market sources said.

Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., said investors took a breather after watching the key index surge over 800 points over the past two sessions.

Corporate earnings news is becoming scarce as the reporting season is about to end in Japan, Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc., pointed out.

Lacking cues from U.S.-China trade negotiations, players refrained from tilting their positions either way, according to an official at a bank-affiliated securities firm.

Rising issues slightly outnumbered falling ones 1,050 to 999 on the TSE’s first section, while 78 issues were unchanged.

Volume fell to 1.345 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.413 billion.

General contractor Obayashi went up 4.2 percent as its operating profit for the April-December period beat the market’s consensus, brokers said.

Nisshinbo Holdings was also upbeat as investors took heart from the textile maker’s share buyback plan.

Among other major gainers were drug maker Astellas and apparel chain Fast Retailing.

By contrast, job information provider Recruit met with selling due to the firm’s failure to upgrade its earnings estimates for the year ending in March, brokers said.

Daily goods producer Kao and industrial robot maker Fanuc also fell noticeably.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average gained 30 points to finish at 21,190.