November 22, 2018 / 6:38 AM / 18 days ago

Nikkei rises before long-weekend; defensive stocks, tourism-related firms outperform

* MUFG tumbles falls report U.S. investigates bank

* Nikkei flat for the week

* Nissan’s board meeting in focus later Thursday

* Market cautious before Black Friday, G20

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei rose on Thursday in choppy trade with gains for defensive stocks and companies linked to inbound tourism demand after data showed a bounce in visitors in October.

The Nikkei gained 0.7 percent to 21,646.55, yet it barely moved for the week. The broader Topix advanced 0.8 percent to 1,628.96, though trade was thin, with only 1.2 billion shares changing hands, the lowest figure in a month.

Japanese markets will be closed on Friday due to a national holiday, with investors looking to the outcome of Black Friday sales that follow Thursday’s U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, at a time when wages are rising and consumer confidence is high in the United States.

“Investors will be talking about that on Monday as it will be a good indication for U.S. consumer spending which will likely contribute to setting the direction of the stock market early next week,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

He said markets also remain tense before a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina which starts on Nov. 30.

Nissan Motor Co was in focus as it prepares for a board meeting later in the day to oust Chairman Carlos Ghosn after the shock arrest of its once-revered leader, starting what could be a long period of uncertainty in its 19-year alliance with Renault.

Companies such as cosmetics makers which benefit from tourist spending attracted buyers after the Japan National Tourism Organization reported that October numbers rose 1.8 percent on-year to 2.646 million having dropped in the previous two months.

Shiseido Co gained 3.7 percent, Kose Corp added 4.5 percent. Drugstore Matsumotokiyoshi advanced 3.6 percent.

Defensive firms such as railway stocks, real estate companies and food processors outperformed. Central Japan Railway added 2.8 percent, Mitsubishi Estate Co gained 1.8 percent and Ajinomoto Co rose 1.5 percent.

Elsewhere, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 1.4 percent after the New York Times reported that U.S. prosecutors are investigating the systems that the bank uses to track money laundering.

Editing by Kim Coghill & Shri Navaratnam

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