The benchmark Nikkei average closed moderately higher after moving aimlessly amid a dearth of fresh major incentives on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday.
The 225-issue average gained 23.81 points, or 0.11 percent, to end at 21,711.38, after retreating 115.02 points Wednesday.
The Topix index of all first-section issues closed down 1.14 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,606.52, following its 11.10-point fall the previous day.
After opening marginally lower, the Nikkei fluctuated narrowly around the previous day’s closing level before firming slightly in late afternoon trading.
The Topix remained in negative territory for most of the day’s trading, dragged down by sluggish performances of financial issues, market sources said.
The Nikkei’s firmness in the afternoon “is believed to have been backed by speculation about the Bank of Japan’s buying of exchange-traded funds,” said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.
Meanwhile, Mitsuo Shimizu, chief strategist at Aizawa Securities Co., pointed out that “active trading was held in check” ahead of Friday’s special quotation fixing to settle April options contracts.
Hiroaki Kuramochi, chief market analyst at Saxo Bank Securities Ltd., noted that players retreated to the sidelines to watch how Wall Street will respond to earnings reports to be released by major U.S. firms next week.
Investors are also paying attention to Japanese firms’ scorecards to be shown later this month, brokers said.
Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,222 to 814 in the TSE’s first section, while 104 issues were unchanged.
Volume decreased to 1.111 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.122 billion shares.
Convenience store operator FamilyMart Uny Holdings Co. went up 3.25 percent, as investors took heart from the company’s brisk earnings for the year that ended in February and decision to change its name to FamilyMart on Sept. 1, brokers said.
Among other major winners were auto parts supplier Denso Corp., cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. and air conditioner manufacturer Daikin Industries.
Monotaro Co. plunged 4.56 percent, hit by selling following the tool shopping website operator’s announcement of slower sales growth in March.
Also sold were automaker Toyota Motor Corp., technology investor Softbank Group Corp. and industrial robot producer Fanuc Corp.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average shed 30 points to end at 21,670.