Japan’s Topix index closed little changed, after swinging between gains and losses in the last hour of trading, as financial stocks and paper makers declined while airlines advanced.
Japan Exchange Group Inc., operator of the country’s biggest stock market, lost 3.6 percent to lead the Topix Other Financing Business Index to the biggest drop among the 33 Topix subsectors. Daio Paper Corp. fell 3.7 percent as the industry fell the second-most among the groups. ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co. gained at least 1.3 percent. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. jumped 8.3 percent after saying its China sales surged 154 percent last month.
The Topix index closed little changed at 1,294.39 in Tokyo, erasing a gain of as much as 1.1 percent in the last hour of trading. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 0.4 percent to 15,747.20, reversing a 0.8 percent advance. The yen weakened 0.1 percent to 104.70 per dollar after retreating 1.5 percent over the previous two days.
“It’s a lot of short-term investors that are moving the market today,” said Yoshihisa Okamoto, the Tokyo-based head of equity research at Mizuho Asset Management Co. “Earlier in the week they came in short, then yesterday they had to cover those positions, and once they bought back enough today, they’re now taking profits and selling.”
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed less than 0.1 percent. The measure rose 0.5 percent yesterday to an all-time high of 1,848.38, erasing its losses for the year. Bank of America Corp., the second-biggest U.S. lender, quadrupled its quarterly profit and beat Wall Street estimates as the company quelled claims tied to defective mortgages.
The Topix jumped 51 percent in 2013, its third-biggest yearly gain on record, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda took steps to end 15 years of deflation. Strategists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the gauge will climb to 1,470 by the end of 2014, as the yen weakens amid prospects for further stimulus by the BOJ while the Federal Reserve cuts back.
The measure then fell for four of the seven trading sessions this year through yesterday to bring this year’s losses to 0.6 percent. Volume on the Topix was 24 percent above its 100-day average today.
Japan Exchange, which operates the Tokyo bourse, dropped 3.6 percent to 2,720 yen today for the biggest loss on the Topix Other Financing index. Orix Corp. slid 0.8 percent to 1,733 yen and consumer lender Credit Saison Co. declined 2 percent to 2,683 yen.
Pulp and paper makers also tumbled, with Daio Paper losing 3.7 percent to 967 yen. Oji Holdings Corp. slumped 1.1 percent to 525 yen and Nippon Paper Industries Co. lost 1.7 percent to 1,886 yen.
The Japanese government will raise its economic assessment in January for the first time in four months, the Nikkei newspaper reported, without citing anyone. Keidanren, the country’s main business lobby, approved increases in base salaries by companies in annual spring labor negotiations, according to a report by Kyodo News.
Core machinery orders for November jumped 9.3 percent month on month, data from the Cabinet Office showed today. The median prediction of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 1.1 percent advance.
The Topix Machinery Index climbed 0.4 percent. Tsurumi Manufacturing Co., which makes submersible pumps, surged 13 percent to 1,301 yen to lead gains on the measure. Disco Corp., which produces precision cutting machinery, added 4.2 percent to 7,230 yen.
Airlines as a group advanced the most on the Topix. ANA Holdings, Asia’s biggest carrier, rose 2.2 percent to 230 yen. Japan Airlines climbed 1.3 percent to 5,370 yen.
Mitsubishi Motors surged 8.3 percent to 1,163 yen for the biggest advance on the Nikkei 225. The automaker’s sales in China for December jumped 154 percent to 10,036, while total sales in the Asian nation for last year gained 63 percent, according to spokeswoman Tomoko Kawabe.
Sharp Corp. gained 6.1 percent to 363 yen, its highest close since Sept. 27. The electronics maker’s target price was raised to 220 yen from 122 yen by Deutsche Bank AG, which cited a likely return to net profit in the fiscal year ending March 31.
The Topix index traded at 1.31 times book value today, compared with 2.68 for the S&P 500 and 1.86 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index yesterday.