Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average ended lower Tuesday after struggling for direction amid a dearth of major reasons to buy following Monday’s U.S. market closure.

The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 45.74 points, or 0.16%, to finish at 28,814.34, after dropping 289.33 points Monday.

The Topix index of all TSE first section issues ended up 3.20 points, or 0.17%, at 1,926.18, in a turnaround from a 24.46-point drop the previous day.

The market got off to a firmer start as investors moved to buy the dip following Monday’s fall.

The bout of buying, however, was short-lived. The market fell into negative terrain later in the morning, reflecting the absence of fresh buying incentives.

In late trading, the Topix index rose back into positive territory and the Nikkei average cut its losses as investors took heart from U.S. index futures’ uptrend in off-hours trading.

A wait-and-see mood prevailed in the market throughout the day with investors taking to the sidelines to check how the U.S. stock market will move after the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, as well as U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for May, to be released by the Institute for Supply Management later on Tuesday.

“Market players are also waiting for the release on Friday of the U.S. Labor Department’s employment report for May, hoping to confirm the strength of U.S. economy,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co.

“Amid a dearth of major market-moving factors, issues that had been sold recently attracted buying,” Maki Sawada, strategist at Nomura Securities Co., said, noting that overseas demand-related issues, such as automakers, rose despite the strengthening of the yen against the dollar.

“The market was underpinned by firm corporate performances,” Sawada added, referring to Ministry of Finance data, released just before the opening bell, which showed that Japanese nonfinancial firms’ combined ordinary profit in the first quarter this year rose 26.0% from a year before.

Despite the fall of the Nikkei, gainers outnumbered decliners 1,361 to 733 on the TSE’s first section while 98 issues were unchanged. Volume shrank to 907 million shares from Monday’s 1.020 billion shares.

Technology investor SoftBank Group, a Nikkei heavyweight component, dropped 1.14%, apparently because some investors grew increasingly concerned about how U.S. long-term interest rates and U.S. technology stocks will be affected by the upcoming U.S. employment report.

Other major Nikkei components such as Fast Retailing and M3 also met with selling.

On the other hand, electronic parts supplier Ibiden gained 3.35%, after the company was chosen as a core member to participate in a project to develop chip manufacturing technology in Japan, launched by Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s leading chip foundry.

Pigeon, which sells baby products in Japan and overseas, including China, surged 5.02% following media reports that the Communist Party of China plans to allow couples in the country to have up to three children, ending a two-child policy.

Sanitary goods maker Unicharm, which sells diapers in many countries including China, also attracted buying.

Other major winners included automakers Toyota and Suzuki.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average dropped 210 points to end at 28,760.

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