April 11, 2019 / 6:44 AM / 3 months ago

Nikkei ends higher in choppy trade, but financials weaker

* Short-term investors seen trading on futures - analysts

* Yaskawa’s earnings focused

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, April 11 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei edged higher in choppy trade on Thursday on futures-led buying, but gains were limited by weaker financial stocks after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes reinforced dovish policy expectations.

Investors awaited earnings results from Yaskawa Electric , a manufacturer with large exposure to China, as it kicks off the Japanese earnings season. Yaskawa’s results are seen as a leading indicator of Chinese demand and investors are monitoring to see what they mean for other Japanese manufactures, traders said.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.1 percent higher at 21,711.38, after swinging in and out of positive territory. Short-term investors were seen buying futures when the dollar edged up to trade above 111 yen, traders said.

The Nikkei outperformed the broader Topix, which fell 0.1 percent to 1,606.52.

“Short-term investors such as hedge funds are seen trading on Nikkei futures. Only short-term investors would trade now,” said Hiroyuki Ueno, a senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

He said long-term investors are currently reluctant to take positions with the Japanese market entering the 10-day Golden Week holiday later in the month.

“We have many big events such as U.S.-China trade issues and U.S.-Europe trade matters, while Trump’s tweets can be provocative during the holiday. We have earnings results too, so the Nikkei may stay in a rangebound for a while,” Ueno said.

Financial stocks lost ground, after U.S. Treasury yields weakened as tame underlying U.S. inflation data reinforced expectations that the Fed would hold interest rates steady or cut them once by the end of the year.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group dropped 1.4 percent, insurers T&D Holdings declined 2.7 percent and Dai-ichi Life Holdings eased 2.2 percent.

Meanwhile, Ryohin Keikaku stumbled 9.8 percent after the retail company expected a 6 percent fall in its net profit for the year ending February 2020. (Editing by Sam Holmes)

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