Nikkei flat as investors await Japan GDP data; Takata gains
(Updates prices) * Investors take breather from outsized gains in previous two sessions * Takata jumps on Reuters report of changes to air bags * Third quarter GDP figures due Monday in focus By Thomas Wilson TOKYO, Nov 13(Reuters) - Japanese stocks were little changed on Thursday, holding near 7-year highs as investors took a pause from intense buying and Wall Street slipped from record highs. The Nikkei benchmark was up 0.3 percent at 17,242.16 points at 0310 GMT, while the broader Topix was up 0.2 percent at 1,380.18. Takata Corp soared 5.9 percent after an official told Reuters it had altered the recipe of an air bag propellant that's been at the centre of a recall of millions of cars worldwide. After big gains in the previous two sessions on expectations Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to delay a second rise in the sales tax in an attempt to keep Japan's sluggish recovery on track, investors paused to assess the wider economic picture. "I think the mood in the market is that now we just have to wait until Nov 17," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities, referring to Monday's release of third-quarter GDP figures, which could influence Abe's decision on the tax and the possibility of a snap election. Japan's economy likely expanded in the July-September period, after a sales tax hike in April sent the economy into its biggest slump since the global financial crisis in the second quarter. But the rebound is likely to be far more muted than policymakers had hoped for. Amid growing concern over its likely negative impact on domestic consumption, Japanese firms overwhelmingly support a delay to the second tax increase, slated for next October. A Reuters survey found that almost three quarters of firms think the economy is too weak to bear the increase. [ID: nL3N0T06QV]. Investors did receive a boost from better-than-expected data on machinery orders. The figures suggested that firms are gradually increasing capital investment, seen as significant in securing a durable recovery. [ID: nL3N0T289Y] "It does show that Japan's firms are using money, which is positive," said Masayuki Otani, chief market analayst at Securities Japan, Inc. Market heavyweight Softbank advanced 2.3 percent, boosted by expectations of a delay to the sales tax hike. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.2 percent to 12,604.59. Also in focus was data on the Chinese economy due at 0530 GMT which is expected to show a further slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.. (Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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