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Nikkei ends virtually unchanged amid lack of trading incentives

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The benchmark Nikkei stock average finished Thursday’s trading almost unchanged from the previous day’s close as market players took to the sidelines amid a dearth of fresh market-moving factors.

The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange inched up 0.34 point, or a rise of less than 0.01%, to close at 28,875.23 following a 9.24-point slide Wednesday.

The Topix index of all first section issues ended down 2.04 points, or 0.10%, at 1,947.10, after losing 10.39 points the day before.

The Tokyo market opened slightly lower after the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index edged down the day before.

Stocks were pushed up later in the morning and pulled back down in the afternoon by the movement of U.S. stock futures in off-hours trading, but mostly moved in a narrow range as players struggled for trading incentives.

While the Topix moved mostly in negative territory, the Nikkei hovered around the previous day’s close on the strength of some tech-related names.

“Speeches by U.S. Federal Reserve officials the day before were largely ignored as the market had already factored in the Fed’s hawkish monetary policy shift after (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President Jim Bullard’s) comments earlier in the week,” said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

Ota added that eurozone and U.S. purchasing managers’ indexes for June released overnight by IHS Markit were also passed over as the results were well within expectations.

“The market is starting to shift from a liquidity-driven market to an earnings-driven market,” said Kazuo Kamitani, strategist at Nomura Securities Co., suggesting that market players were waiting for the release of April-June earnings and revisions to earnings forecasts before trading actively.

In the TSE first section, losers outnumbered gainers 1,155 to 924 while 114 issues were unchanged. Volume shrank to 842 million shares from Wednesday’s 944 million shares.

Technology investor SoftBank Group and online medical information provider M3 rose 2.26% and 1.83%, respectively, after the tech-heavy U.S. Nasdaq index finished higher on Wednesday.

Mining firm Inpex finished at its year-to-date high thanks to rising crude oil prices.

Automakers such as Honda and Subaru also attracted buying.

On the other hand, semiconductor-related issues such as Advantest, down 1.86%, took the effects of a news report that Toshiba’s spinoff chipmaker Kioxia is aiming to be listed on the TSE by September, which triggered concerns of a rebalancing within the chip sector.

Transportation issues such as airlines and railway operators succumbed to selling.

Other losers included department store chains Isetan Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average shed 10 points to end at 28,800.

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