Tokyo stocks closed slightly higher Thursday after another session spent in a narrow trading range.
The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished up 8.39 points, or 0.03%, at 26,809.37, reaching another 29-year high. On Wednesday, the key index rose 13.44 points.
The Topix index of all TSE first section issues rose 1.28 points, or 0.07%, to end at 1,775.25, following a 5.59-point rise the previous day.
The Nikkei opened lower despite rises in two major U.S. stock indexes — the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 — as concerns over possible overheating of the Tokyo market chilled investor sentiment.
The release of weaker-than-expected November sales data the day before by apparel retailer Fast Retailing, which owns the Uniqlo brand and is a major component of the Nikkei average, also dampened the market mood.
The Nikkei moved in a tight range around the previous day’s closing level for the rest of the day, with its downside limited by buybacks and its topside capped by profit-taking.
A rise in Dow futures in off-hours trading also propped up stock prices, especially for high-priced issues, brokers said.
Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc., described the day’s market movement as an “extension of trends in recent sessions,” saying that the same factors — vaccine-backed optimism and overheating concerns — led the market almost sideways.
Otani said that investor confidence in an expected economic recovery following the deployment of novel coronavirus vaccines was evident in the sharp rises of transport stocks such as those of shipping and railway sectors.
“Market players are looking at where the economy will be after the vaccines become widely available,” Kazuo Kamitani, senior associate at Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, said, predicting that the Nikkei will hover around 26,000 in the next two weeks as a consolidation period.
Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,266 to 834 in the TSE’s first section, with 77 issues unchanged. Volume shrank to 1.233 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.428 billion shares.
Shipping names Kawasaki Kisen and Mitsui O.S.K. jumped 5.83% and 4.61%, respectively.
Railway operators such as JR West, JR East and JR Tokai also attracted buying.
Major components of the Nikkei average, such as SoftBank Group and Tokyo Electron, gained.
On the other hand, issues that had risen on strong business amid the coronavirus crisis such as M3 succumbed to selling, with the medical information provider sliding 2.95%.
Other losers included pharmaceutical firm Daiichi Sankyo.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average inched up 10 points to 26,850.
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