November 7, 2019 / 1:36 AM / 6 days ago

Nikkei pauses near 1-year peak, Softbank Group stumbles

TOKYO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Japanese shares took a breather on Thursday on worries over possibly delays in a first-phase Sino-U.S. trade deal while Softbank Group slid on its first quarterly loss in 14 years.

The Nikkei share average was flat at 23,306.99, not far off Wednesday’s 13-month intraday high of 23,352.56 while the broader Topix gained 0.1% to 1,696.11.

A meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign an interim trade deal could be delayed until December as discussions continue over terms and venue, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The report prompted investors to take stock after a strong rally since mid-October on expectations that Washington and Beijing will sign a “phase one” deal to suspend their disputes on trade.

In the past month, the Nikkei had rallied about 8% and Topix almost 7%.

Those strong gains came even as Japanese corporate earnings have yet to show a broad-based recovery.

A Reuters Tankan poll on Thursday showed Japanese manufacturers turned the most pessimistic in 6-1/2 years in November and the service-sector mood fell to three-year lows, hurt by the global slowdown, natural disasters and a sales tax hike at home.

Softbank Group fell 3.3% after it posted an operating loss of 704 billion yen ($6.5 billion) in the July-September quarter due to a writedown on its investment through its giant Vision Fund on WeWork and Uber Technologies .

Mitsubishi Motors fell 6.3% after the carmaker slashed its full-year profit outlook by 67% as it expects sluggish demand in North America and China to continue.

Graphite electrode maker Tokai Carbon lost 6.6% on disappointing earnings due to slowing demand while rival manufacturer Showa Denko also dropped 2.4% following its earnings.

On the other hand, Olympus soared as much as 16.5% to a record high after its quarterly earnings beat market estimates, helped by strong sales of endoscopes.

Medical equipment maker Sysmex gained 8.0% and discount store operator Pan Pacific International jumped 6.8% on brisk earnings. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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