Japan’s Nikkei Ends Lower as Investors Await BOJ Cue on Policy
15:58 JST, December 18, 2023
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average ended lower on Monday as cautious investors awaited hints from the Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Kazuo Ueda for a possible shift in its ultra-low rates policy.
The Nikkei fell 0.64% to close at 32,758.98, while the broader Topix slipped 0.66% to 2,316.86.
The BOJ is holding a two-day policy meeting, which will conclude on Tuesday. Market players are waiting for any comments from Ueda on the timing for the policy shift, even as the consensus is that the BOJ would keep its policy unchanged at this meeting.
“It was hard to make buy orders today,” said Shoichi Arisawa, general manager of the investment research department at IwaiCosmo Securities.
“Investors were cautious about an overreaction of the market when Ueda makes any sensitive comments.”
The market moved sharply last week after Ueda’s comments fueled speculation that the BOJ would announce the end of its negative rate policy as early as this month.
Ueda said the BOJ anticipated an “even more challenging” situation at the year-end and the beginning of next year, sending the yen to a multi-month high and Japanese government bond yields to surge last week.
Uniqlo-clothing shop operator Fast Retailing fell 1.18% to drag the Nikkei the most. Chip-testing equipment maker Advances fell 1.75% and staffing agency Recruit Holdings lost 3.42%.
Shipping firms jumped 5.61%.
Amarket participant said the rise came amid speculation on hikes in shipping fees after two major freight firms, including MSC, said they would avoid the Suez Canal as Houthi militants in Yemen stepped up their assaults on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
Only four sectors on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry sub-sectors rose.
Out of 225 stocks on the Nikkei, 45 rose and 179 fell, while one was flat.
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