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Japan’s Nikkei Set to Post Biggest Yearly Gain in Decade

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo Stock Exchange

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average traded lower on the final trading day of 2023 as investors struggled to find cues, while the index is on course to post its biggest annual gain in a decade.

The Nikkei was down 0.21% at 33,470.37 by the midday break after rising as much as 0.3%.

“Investors bought stocks that had underperformed, and sold those that had outperformed in recent sessions as they did not find any market moving cues,” said Takehiko Masuzawa, trading head at Phillip Securities Japan.

Still, the Nikkei is poised to post the biggest yearly gain since 2013, the year Haruhiko Kuroda took his seat as the Governor of the Bank of Japan and began massive monetary easing to boost asset value.

The benchmark hit a 33-year high in November, amid a rare call from the Tokyo Stock Exchange to improve capital efficiency.

It is also set to become the best-performing major stock index, driven by the yen’s weakness against the dollar. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway boosting its stakes in local firms buoyed sentiment.

The broader Topix was up 0.21% on Friday, supported by Toyota Motor, which rose 1.58%. Toyota has lost 7% this month as a safety scandal hit its small-car unit Daihatsu Motor.

Sony Group gained 0.37%, also supporting the Topix’s gain.

Rakuten Group jumped 4.67% to become the best performer on the Nikkei after the e-commerce and fintech firm said subscribers of its mobile phone services surpassed 6 million this month.

Energy explorers lost 0.88% to become the worst performer among the 33 industry sub-indexes, while refiners fell 0.61%.