• Jiji


Tokyo stocks closed slightly higher on Wednesday after struggling for direction.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished up 13.44 points, or 0.05%, at 26,800.98, the highest closing level since April 17, 1991, after rising 353.92 points on Tuesday.

The Topix index of all first-section issues rose 5.59 points, or 0.32%, to end at 1,773.97, following a 13.46-point rise the previous day.

Gains in all three major U.S. stock indexes including the Dow Jones industrial average the day before pushed Tokyo stocks higher at the opening bell.

The Tokyo market soon met with mixed currents of selling and buying. A drop in Dow futures in off-hours trading and a sense of market overheating triggered sell orders, while purchases were fueled by coronavirus vaccine hopes and positive U.S. and Chinese economic indicators, brokers said.

A dearth of domestic market-moving factors also left the market struggling to maintain its upward momentum.

Kazuo Kamitani, senior associate at Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, said that market players were not overly concerned over short-term issues such as the rise in the number of coronavirus infection cases.

“Especially when the key U.S. long-term interest rate is near zero, investors can theoretically base their investment decisions on as far into the future as possible,” Kamitani said, suggesting that they were betting on a post-coronavirus economic recovery.

Brokers also said that the market’s topside was capped due to profit-taking by speculators.

“Although 27,000 is merely a passing point in the Nikkei’s expected long-term rise, many investors want to lock in profits whenever the index approaches the threshold,” Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said regarding the waves of selling limiting the index’s growth.

Yamamoto added that such speculators are expected to refrain from profit-taking near the psychological threshold of 27,000 once the Dow closes stably above the 30,000 mark, boosting global market confidence.

Gainers outnumbered losers 1,158 to 934 in the TSE’s first section, with 85 issues unchanged. Volume grew to 1.428 billion shares from Tuesday’s 1.331 billion shares.

Cyclicals such as real estate and materials issues jumped on continued high hopes for economic recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

Automakers also attracted buying, with Honda rising 5.09% and Hino gaining 2.15%.

Other major winners included optical equipment-maker Olympus and semiconductor test device-maker Advantest.

On the other hand, Recruit Holdings continued to slide after media reports on share sales by shareholders in international markets, dropping 4.75%.

Major Nikkei components such as Fast Retailing, SoftBank Group and M3 also lost ground.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average gained 40 points to 26,840.

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