* Speculation that BOJ's ETF buying supports market
* Nikkei ekes out small gains for 2016, 5th straight annual
gains Takata soars on hopes it could settle charges with US
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Dec 30 Japan's Nikkei share average
dropped to a three-week low in choppy trade on Friday as
investors took profits from the recent gains on the last trading
day of 2016, but the market managed to eke out marginal gains
for the year.
The Nikkei ended 0.2 percent lower at 19,114.37, the
lowest closing level since Dec. 9. After trading in negative
territory, the benchmark index turned positive in afternoon
trade, with traders citing speculation that the Bank of Japan
was buying exchange-traded funds to support the market.
The benchmark index added 0.4 percent for the year, posting
a fifth straight year of gains, the longest annual winning
streak since the late 1980s.
Japanese stocks have surged since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
took office, with the Nikkei hitting an almost two-decade high
in June 2015, on hopes his Abenomics policies of monetary
stimulus, fiscal expansion and structural reform would end
decades of deflation and stagnation.
Attention has since shifted to U.S. politics and economic
growth after Donald Trump's surprising election to U.S.
president last month.
Japanese equities were buoyed by the yen's weakness against
the dollar on expectations that the incoming administration
would boost U.S. growth and stoke inflation via increased
infrastructure spending, tax cuts and reduced regulation.
"The Japanese market has been largely influenced by global
events this year such as Brexit and the U.S. election. For next
year, the market continues to prepare for risks such as whether
Trump can proceed with the policies that he has been promising,"
said Kazuhiro Takahashi, an equity strategist at Daiwa
Takata Corp was under the spotlight again on
Friday, surging as much as 21 percent to hit the daily limit up
on news that the company could settle criminal charges with the
U.S. Department of Justice before the Obama administration
leaves office next month. The stock was the biggest gainer on
Drugmakers and fishery stocks outperformed, with Astellas
Pharma rising 1.3 percent and Eisai Co gaining
1.1 percent, and Nippon Suisan surging 2.7 percent.
Real estate shares and steel shares were sold. Mitsui
Fudosan dropped 1.3 percent and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo
Metal tumbled 1.2 percent.
Toshiba Corp rebounded 9.4 percent as retail
investors were seen covering their short positions before the
The stock nosedived about 40 percent and wiped about $6.5
billion off of its market value in the three days to Thursday
after revealing earlier this week that it faces a potential
multi-billion dollar writedown.
The broader Topix was flat at 1,518.61 and the
JPX-Nikkei Index 400 fell 0.1 percent to 13,614.80.
(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Eric Meijer)