Japanese Stocks Little Changed as Sharp Corp. Advances

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average halted a seven-day losing streak, closing little changed, as a measure of volatility on the benchmark fell to its lowest since February 2011. Energy companies dropped on lower oil prices.

Sharp Corp. surged 7.2 percent to lead advancing shares on the Nikkei 225 after Kyodo News reported Intel Corp. may invest up to 40 billion yen ($503 million) in the TV maker. Consumer lender Aiful Corp. soared 30 percent after posting profits that beat estimates. Refiners Cosmo Oil Co. and JX Holdings Inc. lost at least 1.7 percent.

The Nikkei 225 added less than 0.1 percent to close at 8,664.73 in Tokyo. The gauge moved within a 26.91 yen range, the narrowest since Feb. 8 2011. The Nikkei Volatility Index fell for a third day, dropping 2.7 percent to 16.71, a level implying the smallest price swings in 21 months. The Topix Index was little changed at 722.41.

“The negatives right now aren’t powerful enough to push investors to keep selling, but they’re just enough to stop investors from buying,” said Tomomi Yamashita, a senior fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, which oversees $6.6 billion.

The Nikkei 225 lost more than 4 percent in a seven-day slide through yesterday that was the longest since April. Volume on the gauge today was a third below the 30-day intraday average.

Shares on the Topix traded at 0.9 times book value, compared with 2.1 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 1.5 for the Europe Stoxx 600 Index. A number below one means companies trades for less than what their assets might be worth.

Fiscal Cliff

Futures on the S&P 500 Index added 0.4 percent today. The gauge dropped 0.4 percent yesterday as concern about the federal budget debate erased a rally led by Home Depot Inc.

President Barack Obama meets Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress this week to begin talks on a plan to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Unless a compromise is reached to cut the debt, $607 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts will come into effect started in January.

Energy companies fell after crude oil for December delivery declined 0.2 percent to $$85.38 a barrel in New York yesterday, the lowest close since Nov. 8. Cosmo Oil lost 2 percent to 146 yen. JX Holdings slumped 1.7 percent 412 yen.

Aiful gained the most in the Topix, rising 30 percent to 312 yen. The consumer lender posted a 76 percent jump in first-half net income to 19.6 billion yen, beating its forecast by 35 percent, on cost cuts.

Sharp, Japan’s largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, jumped 7.2 percent to 163 yen after Kyodo News said the company is in final talks to sell a stake to Intel Corp.

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