Japan shares stay near 15-year high, outlook remains positive

jueves 19 de marzo de 2015 22:52 GYT

* Nikkei flat, broader Topix down slightly
    * Market in 'correction phase' after rally - strategist
    * Nintendo falls sharply after big gains in past 2 days

    By Hideyuki Sano
    TOKYO, March 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average was
little changed near a 15-year high early on Friday as investors
took a breather after the market's strong rally since February.
    The index, which touched  a 15-year high of
19,557.17 on Tuesday, rose 0.1 percent to 19,486.75. The broader
Topix, however, fell 0.2 percent to 1,573.06.
   "There are some signs the rally had got overheated. So the
market is in a correction phase," said Masahiro Ayukai, senior
investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
    Still, some market players say sentiment remains positive on
hopes companies will report solid earning growth and Japanese
public investors will keep buying stocks.
    Nintendo, which had soared 35.7 percent in the last
two sessions after announcing it will enter the smartphone game
market, fell 5.9 percent.
    The Nikkei has risen more than 11 percent this year, making
Japan one of the best performing markets after some European
    "Although we have seen some profit-taking today, many people
in the market are still bullish," said a trader at a Japanese
brokerage firm.
    Underpinning the market are expectations that Japanese
companies' profits could grow more than 10 percent in the 
financial year that begins in April.
    Investors also expect higher payouts to shareholders as the
government is putting pressure on companies to boost
    Yahoo Japan soared 5.8 percent and Mitsubishi
Electric rose 2.0 percent after each company announced
a dividend hike plan.
    Japanese public investors, such as public pension funds,
have steadily bought stocks for months as Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe has goaded them to be more aggressive in its investments
after his radical stimulus to try boosting growth.  
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.2 percent to

 (Editing by Richard Borsuk)