Japan’s Nikkei Reverses Early Gains Ahead of BOJ’s Policy Decision (UPDATE 1)

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo Stock Exchange

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average fell on Thursday, reversing early gains amid caution around the Bank of Japan’s policy decision due Friday.

The Nikkei closed 0.4% lower at 38,720.47, after rising nearly 1% to cross the 39,000 level earlier in the session as chip-related stocks tracked their U.S. peers.

Of the 225 Nikkei components, 44 stocks rose and 181 fell.

The broader Topix also gave up early gains, ending 0.89% lower at 2,731.78.

“The market was weaker than expected,” said Shuji Hosoi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

“The Nikkei was barely in the positive territory earlier in the session supported by gains of chip-related stocks.”

Shares of chip-testing equipment maker Advantest rose 1.54% and was the biggest support for the Nikkei, tracking overnight gains in the U.S. semiconductor index.

However, chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron fell 1.66%, dragging the Nikkei the most.

Toyota Motor lost 2.52% and was the biggest drag for the Topix.

Trading firm Mitsubishi Corp slipped 2.45%.

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

“The market has already taken into account that the BOJ will reduce the bond buying amounts, so the market reaction after the policy meeting is expected to be limited,” said Daiwa’s Hosoi.

The BOJ will consider trimming its bond buying at the meeting ending on Friday, the Nikkei newspaper reported, taking a first key step to reducing its almost $5 trillion balance sheet.