Stocks inched up in lethargic trading Tuesday as investors retreated to the sidelines to watch the moves of the U.S. market.
The 225-issue Nikkei average rose 4.97 points, or 0.02 percent, to end at 20,625.16 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On Monday, the key market gauge fell 84.18 points.
The Topix index of all issues listed on the exchange’s first section went up 5.58 points, or 0.37 percent, to 1,510.79, after sagging 6.65 points the previous day.
The small gains reflected a slight weakening in the yen against the dollar and came as Chinese stocks resisted a further drop into negative territory, brokers said.
Investors were paying close attention to how the U.S. stock market will move after the Labor Day holiday on Monday, they said.
Concerns about U.S.-China trade tensions were fueled by a news report that Washington and Beijing are struggling to set a date for a meeting planned in September, brokers said.
“Market players wanted to see how the U.S. market will react to the latest news on the U.S.-China trade dispute after the three-day holiday,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.
Miura noted that the U.S. market may drop, as indicated in Dow Jones futures in off-hours trading. It is equally possible the market will rise if investors conclude that negative trading incentives have run their course, he added.
Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Naito Securities Co., suggested that the Tokyo market was supported by buybacks from some Japanese investors of cyclical issues such as shipping companies.
Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,485 to 561 in the TSE’s first section, while 104 issues were unchanged.
Volume increased to 841 million shares from Monday’s 802 million shares.
Nickel-related issues advanced a day after Indonesia said it will move up the start of its ban on nickel ore exports from 2022 to 2020. Pacific Metals increased 2.74 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining rose 1.83 percent.
JXTG, Idemitsu and some other oil names, as well as shipping firms Nippon Yusen and Mitsui O.S.K., attracted buying.
Beverage producer Itoen closed up 2.51 percent thanks to its better-than-expected operating profit for May-July.
Japan Tobacco fell for the second consecutive session.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average rose 70 points to end at 20,660.