Japan’s Nikkei Falls as Caution Sets in before Key Central Bank Decisions (UPDATE 1)

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo Stock Exchange

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average fell on Wednesday, dragged down by losses in some market heavyweights including Fast Retailing, as caution prevailed ahead of U.S. and Japanese central bank policy decisions.

The Nikkei ended 0.66% lower at 38,876.71 after two straight sessions of gains. The broader Topix slipped 0.73% to 2,756.44.

“Only a handful of large technology stocks led overnight gains of two main indexes in the United States. So, market players were not actively buying large varieties of Japanese stocks today,” said Shuutarou Yasuda, a market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Intelligence Laboratory.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq registered record closing highs for a second straight session on Tuesday, helped by a more than 7% gain in Apple shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, inched lower 0.31%.

Market players were awaiting a key U.S. inflation reading and updated Federal Reserve interest rate projections due later in the day for further direction.

The Bank of Japan will conclude its two-day policy meeting on Friday, where it is expected to keep interest rates steady and consider whether to offer clearer guidance on how it plans to reduce its huge balance sheet.

Uniqlo brand owner Fast Retailing fell 2.45% to drag the Nikkei the most. Staffing agency Recruit Holdings lost 2.95%. Chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron slipped 0.17%.

Meanwhile, suppliers of Apple rose. TDK jumped 4.35% to become the biggest support for the Nikkei, while Murata Manufacturing and Taiyo Yuden climbed 2.63% and 1.71%, respectively.

Of the 225 components of the Nikkei, 51 stocks rose and 170 fell, with four flat.