Tokyo stocks lose early gains to close flat

June 20, 2014 - 10:47:52 am

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks finished flat on Friday, giving up early gains after hitting a five-month high the previous day and following a new record close on Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.08 percent, or 11.74 points, to end at 15,349.42, while the Topix index of all first-section shares edged down 0.01 percent, or 0.12 points, to 1,268.92.

"It's natural that, after five weeks of rallies, share prices are going to slip a bit," said Seiichi Suzuki, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

The Nikkei has gained about nine percent over the past month.

May's volume was largely driven by hedge fund buying, while this month has been dominated by a "steadier diet of domestic pension funds buying into the market", said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

That prompted overseas investors to pile back into the Japanese market, he added.

"While one may argue that the rally is entirely 'artificial', with the mammoth government pension fund poised to raise its stake in the stock market, few people want to be left behind," Fujito told Dow Jones Newswires.

"The train has already left the station, so to speak."

Japan's government is readying to unfetter its $1.26 trillion public pension fund, freeing managers to dump low-yield sovereign bonds and go in search of higher, but riskier, returns in a move that could see cash flood markets.

In Tokyo share trading, market heavyweight SoftBank turned down 0.08 percent to finish at 7,783 yen, Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing slipped 0.18 percent to 34,415 yen, while Takeda Pharmaceutical fell 0.71 percent to 4,841 yen.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries lost 1.09 percent to close at 630 yen, as the Japanese firm and German partner Siemens upped their offer for France's power-to-rail group Alstom on Friday.

The pair are battling with General Electric to win the government's backing to buy the French conglomerate.

In currency markets, the dollar fetched 101.91 yen, slightly down from 101.94 yen in New York on Thursday. (AFP)