Nikkei slips from 18-1/2-yr high, sentiment remains positive
* Deadlock in Greece talks pushes down share prices * Sentiment strong after break of historical milestone * Passage of U.S. fast track bills boosts TPP hopes By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, June 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged lower on Thursday as negotiations to avert a Greek debt default stumbled, but market sentiment remained bullish a day after the Nikkei hit its highest level since 1996. The Nikkei opened down 0.4 percent, in the wake of falls in U.S. and European shares after Athens rejected counter-proposals from creditors. But it pared most of the losses to trade at 20,854.14, down just 0.1 percent on the day, having hit an 18-1/2-year high of 20,952.71 on Wednesday on optimism on earnings recovery and higher payouts to shareholders. "The underlying trend is extremely positive. Obviously there are hurdles with regard to Greece but the tea leaves are looking more encouraging for a resolution without a 'Grexit'," said Stefan Worrall, director of equity at Credit Suisse. Also helping to underpin the mood, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would help President Barack Obama seal a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade pact, in which Japan will be the second largest economy after the United States. Investors hope the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will benefit a wide range of Japanese businesses from truck makers now facing high U.S. tariff to food importers paying high Japanese import customs. Eiji Kinouchi, chief technical analyst at Daiwa Securities said many Asian shares stagnated in 1990s because they were left out of regional economic partnership such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU.) "Asian countries that have been pushing for TPP aggressively, such as Singapore and South Korea, have seen their share prices. The TPP will help Japanese shares exit from their long-term stagnation," he said. Truckmaker Isuzu Motors rose 1.0 percent while Rokko Butter jumped 6.6 percent. Still, many exporter shares retreated on Thursday on profit-taking, with carmaker shares falling 0.7 percent. Toyota Motor Co fell 0.9 percent while Nissan Motor dropped 1.1 percent. Robot maker Fanuc fell 2.7 percent while machinery maker Komatsu shed 2.0 percent. The broader Topix fell 0.3 percent to 1,675.72, slipping from eight-year high touched on Wednesday while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.3 percent to 15,119.23. (Editing by Kim Coghill)
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