Nikkei flat as investors stay on sidelines before ECB

miércoles 21 de enero de 2015 22:18 GYT
 

* Trading remains choppy before ECB
    * Unicharm hits record high on strong profit report

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Japanese shares were flat in
choppy trade as the market digested expectations the European
Central Bank will unveil new stimulus measures at its meeting
later on Thursday, while a pause in the weak yen kept investors
sidelined.
    The Nikkei 225 share average was flat at 17,273.54
in mid-morning trade, while the broader Topix fell 0.3
percent to 1,386.99.
    Analysts said that hopes that the ECB will launch a
large-scale sovereign bond-buying programme later in the day are
factored into the current market, and with Greece's national
election scheduled on the weekend, investors may refrain from
taking large positions for now.
    Greece faces an early national election after its parliament
rejected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' nominee for president
on Dec. 29. 
    A source told Reuters the ECB's Executive Board had proposed
a programme that would enable the bank to buy 50 billion euros
($58 billion) in bonds per month starting in March. ECB
President Mario Draghi will speak to the media at 1330 GMT on
Thursday. 
    "If the ECB eases policy as expected, the news may be priced
in quickly and investors may take profits," said Hikaru Sato, a
senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. "If the ECB's
decision fails to meet market expectations, then there will
likely be confusion in the market and shares will be sold, so
either way, investors are staying on the sidelines."
    Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp 
falling 0.5 percent, Honda Motor Co rising 0.2 percent
and Panasonic Corp dropping 0.8 percent.
    Against the yen, the dollar was back at 117.89,
having reversed all of Tuesday's gains.
    Bucking the trend, Unicharm Corp rose as high as
3.7 percent to a record 3,192 yen after the Nikkei business
daily reported that the company's Apr-Dec operating profit
likely reached 59 billion yen, compared to a previously forecast
56.6 billion yen due to strong sales of high-end diapers in the
domestic market and brisk sales in overseas markets.
    The new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.5 percent
to 12,582.27.

 (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)