Nikkei slips on profit-taking; investors bullish on 2015 prospects

jueves 25 de diciembre de 2014 22:00 GYT
 

* Traders bullish about prospects for next year
    * Nikkei may reach 19,500 yen - analysts
    * Data shows inflation and wages stagnant

    By Thomas Wilson
    TOKYO, Dec 26(Reuters) - Japanese stocks slipped on Friday
as investors closed positions as the year-end approaches, but
sentiment remained upbeat about prospects for 2015.   
    With overseas markets closed on Thursday for Christmas,
there was little in the way of market catalysts. The Nikkei
benchmark fell 0.1 percent to 17,784.04 by 0105 GMT,
after notching its first drop in six sessions on Thursday.
    Investors remained bullish on the performance of Japanese
equities in the new year, expecting the average to exceed a
14-1/2 year high of 18,300.39.  
    "Investors don't mind a small drop of the last couple of
days as there's fresh hopes for a rally next year," said
Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset
Management.
    Leading exporters' shares were steady as the yen traded at
around 120.25 against the dollar.  The weak yen boosts Japanese
exporters' profits and may make firms more competitive.
    Japan's largest automaker Toyota Motor Corp added
0.4 percent, while Panasonic Corp slipped 0.2 percent. 
    Large-cap firms were mixed, with mobile phone giant Softbank
Corp ticking up 0.3 percent and Uniqlo clothes brand
owner Fast Retailing Co Ltd losing 0.7 percent. 
    But highlighting the challenges for Japan's economy in 2015,
Japan's annual core consumer inflation slowed for a fourth
consecutive month in November, data showed.
    Pressured by plummeting oil prices, the consumer core price
index rose at an annual rate of 2.7 percent last month.     
    Excluding April's 3 percentage point sales tax hike, the
figure was 0.7 percent, underlining the difficulty of the Bank
of Japan's uphill push to achieve 2 percent inflation. 
 
    Household spending remained weak, separate data showed,
given slow wages growth. Rising wages are crucial to the success
of the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reflationary policies,
stagnant wages will mean any recovery from recession is likely
to be fragile. 
    Also in focus were initial public offering plans for Japan
Post Holdings Co IPO-JAPP.T, one of the world's biggest
financial institutions. 
    Japan Post Holdings is expected to list its bank and
insurance units separately in the IPO in Sept. 2015, sources
familiar with the matter told Reuters this week. A briefing is
scheduled at 0700 GMT. 
    The broader Topix added 0.1 percent to 1,422.39,
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was flat at
12,923.88. 

 (Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by Eric Meijer)