Nikkei snaps 5-day winning streak on profit-taking, JAL drops
* Investors take profits in holiday-thinned trading * Airliners biggest loser as JAL falls on tax report * Investors maintain positive market outlook By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average slipped on Thursday in holiday-thinned trade as investors took profits after five straight sessions of gains. Airlines were the biggest losers in the Tokyo Stock Exchange's 33 industry subindexes as Japan Airlines fell 3.2 percent on a media report that the government is considering scrapping a special tax break for companies that received the government's support to recover from bankruptcy. The Nikkei average dropped 0.3 percent to 17,795.07, after having risen 6.6 percent in the previous five sessions on hopes of solid U.S. growth next year. "It is natural to see some profit-taking after a rally in the last five days. But I think many people still expect the market to hit a new high at the end of year," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Securities. Earlier this month the Nikkei hit a seven-year high of 18,030.83. The yen's fall was the biggest driver of the rally as it boosts Japanese exporters' profits and could make Japanese firms more competitive. The yen traded at 120.33 to the dollar on Thursday, not far from a seven-year low of 121.86 hit on Dec. 8. "Given the yen's fall, Japanese corporate profits will likely to grow about 10 percent this financial year and another 10 percent in the next year," said Hiroshi Ono, the head of equity investment at Sumitomo Life Insurance. "I think the Nikkei is likely to extend its rally to hit 20,000 next year," Ono added. Investors are also optimistic for the U.S. economic outlook after news on Tuesday that the U.S. economy grew at 5.0 percent in the third quarter, its quickest pace in 11 years and a sign that growth may have shifted into higher gear. The broader Topix lost 0.3 percent with decliners outnumbering gainers by two to one. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also lost 0.3 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rose 1.3 percent after media report that the group is considering a share buyback and an increase in dividend payouts.
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