Japan’s Nikkei Treads Water in Thin Trading; Retailers Sag

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo Stock Exchange

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average was little changed on Tuesday as declines for retailers and auto shares were offset by gains for energy stocks.

Overall, though, the market fluctuated in very narrow ranges in the morning session amid a dearth of trading cues and with many market participants away for year-end holidays.

The Nikkei entered the midday recess flat at 33,253.21, while the broader Topix edged 0.06% lower.

“You don’t get a sense of any real direction from movements in the stock market today,” said Maki Sawada, a strategist at Nomura Securities.

“The Nikkei feels like its latched closely to the previous day’s closing level,” as thin trading conditions continue with many market participants absent, she said.

Volume of trade was just less that 590 million shares on Monday, the lowest level in eight months. As of midday, volume on Tuesday was just over 321 million shares.

Department store operator Takashimaya was the Nikkei’s biggest decliner, dropping 3.26% despite reporting solid earnings after Monday’s market close. It had climbed 2.36% the previous day in the run-up to the results.

Peer J. Front Retailing dropped 2.27% ahead of its own financial report after Tuesday’s close. Odakyu Electric Railway, which operates department stores as well as trains, lost 2.62%.

Automotive shares continued to be weak amid the safety-test scandal at Toyota Motor’s small car unit Daihatsu, spurring a production halt. Toyota slipped 0.34%, Nissan slid 1.93% and Mazda sank 2.35%.

Tiremaker Bridgestone dropped 1.02% to make rubber companies the worst performer among the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry groups.

At the other end, mining – which includes oil explorers – was the top performing industry group, gaining 0.66%. Oil and coal producers added 0.44%.