Stocks turned lower on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday as profit-taking gained strength following four consecutive winning sessions.
The 225-issue Nikkei average fell 38.72 points, or 0.18 percent, to end at 21,425.51. On Thursday, the key market gauge gained 32.74 points.
The Topix index of all first-section issues edged down 3.98 points, or 0.25 percent, to finish at 1,609.52 after a marginal rise of 0.03 point the previous day.
Tokyo stocks got off to a dismal start, in the wake of a downturn on Wall Street Thursday. Investor sentiment was dampened by weaker-than-expected economic data including U.S. durable goods orders, brokers said.
For the rest of the session, the market was pressured by selling to lock in profits amid a dearth of fresh trading incentives, they added.
In particular, stocks were hurt by individual investors’ small-lot selling, an official at a bank-affiliated securities firm said.
Moves to square positions emerged ahead of the weekend, Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., pointed out.
Ichikawa also said players refrained from active trading to await the outcome of the ongoing high-level trade talks between the United States and China that started in Washington on Thursday.
Still, the market resisted sinking deeper, underpinned by hopes that Washington and Beijing can clinch a deal to settle their trade dispute before the March 1 deadline, Hiroaki Hiwada, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., noted.
Volume dropped to 988 million shares from Thursday’s 1.203 billion shares, hitting the lowest level since Aug. 24 last year.
Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,288 to 731 on the TSE’s first section, while 111 issues were unchanged.
Semiconductor-related Tokyo Electron, Advantest and Sumco met with selling triggered by the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index’s fall on Thursday after an eight-session advance.
Also on the shady side were air conditioner manufacturer Daikin and convenience store operator FamilyMart Uny.
By contrast, Nippon Paper Industries attracted buying after Daiwa Securities Co. raised its investment rating and target share price for the company.
Among other major gainers were cosmetics producer Shiseido and drug maker Astellas.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average sagged 40 points to 21,400.