News Column

Stocks Morning UPDATE1

February 16, 2014

TOKYO, Feb. 17 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING INFO)

Tokyo stocks ended Monday morning higher on bargain-hunting, erasing early losses prompted by Japan's weaker-than-expected growth data.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 56.75 points, or 0.40 percent, from Friday to 14,369.78. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 3.73 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,187.55.

Trading lacked a clear sense of direction.

After opening higher following Friday's gains on Wall Street, share prices in Tokyo soon turned top-heavy and moved lower, given data showing the Japanese economy grew a smaller-than-expected annualized real 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. Economists had projected a 2.6 percent expansion.

But sharp falls were prevented as the yen's appreciation stalled both against the U.S. dollar and the euro. Investors were also reluctant to sell aggressively after heavy sell-offs late last week.

The Nikkei was then traded in and out of negative territory before moving higher toward the end of the morning session.

"Buying took the upper hand at the opening given Friday's rises in the Dow index," said Ayako Terada at Nomura Securities Co.'s investment research department.

"But the gross domestic product report turned out to be much weaker than the market had expected, and buying momentum fizzled out quickly," she said, adding that the market will likely remain top-heavy ahead of the U.S. stock market's closure Monday for a holiday.

On the First Section, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,107 to 548, while 126 finished the morning unchanged.

By sector, brokerage, paper and pulp, and utility issues drew notable buying while mining, oil and coal, and service shares lost ground.

Suntory Beverage & Food climbed 35 yen or 1.0 percent to 3,415 yen after reporting that it expects its group net profit to rise 12 percent in 2014 from a year earlier.

On the other hand, social gaming firm Gree faced selling after reporting a 46 percent slump in its group net profit for the July-December period. The stock fell 10 yen or 0.9 percent to 1,077 yen.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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