March 16, 2017 / 6:47 AM / a year ago

Nikkei ekes out small gains after Fed; Fast Retailing falls

TOKYO, March 16 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks eked out small gains in choppy trade on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked U.S. interest rates, but signalled no pick-up in the pace of tightening.

The Nikkei rose 0.1 percent to 19,590.14 points, after trading in negative territory earlier in the session.

Financial stocks languished as U.S. yields fell after the Fed raised interest rates for the second time in three months, but did not flag any plans to accelerate the pace of monetary tightening. Exporters were also weak after the dollar fell against the yen.

Fast Retailing, the operator of Uniqlo clothing chain, fell 1.9 percent after the Nikkei Business Daily reported that its rivals were planning to expand aggressively to new markets.

The loss contributed a hefty 27 negative points to the benchmark index.

On the other hand, mining shares rose after crude oil prices extended gains from the previous session after official government data showed U.S. stockpiles had eased from record highs. Inpex Corp rose 1.0 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co gained 0.8 percent.

The market largely shrugged off the Bank of Japan’s decision on Thursday to keep its monetary policy steady, an announcement widely expected.

The broader Topix gained 0.1 percent to 1,572.69 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.1 percent to 14,087.07. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Randy Fabi)

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