March 14, 2019 / 7:07 AM / 6 months ago

Nikkei ends nearly flat after weak China data; SoftBank surges

* SoftBank adds 16 positive points to Nikkei

* Samco tumbles after cutting earnings forecast

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 14 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei ended nearly flat on Thursday after China reported a mixed bag of data that renewed concerns about the global economy, while index-heavyweight SoftBank Group offered support amid talk of an Uber-related investment.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.02 percent lower at 21,287.02 after surging to as high as 21,522.75 in the morning.

Chinese shares fell after data showed the country’s industrial output expanded at the slowest pace in 17 years, although retail sales and fixed asset investment grew by more than expected.

“Mixed Chinese data and falling Chinese shares reminded the market that concerns about a global economic slowdown persist,” said Shogo Maekawa, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

SoftBank Group Corp jumped 1.3 percent in heavy volume after Reuters reported the company and Toyota Motor Corp are in talks to invest $1 billion or more in the self-driving vehicle unit of Uber Technologies Inc’s.

SoftBank added 16 positive points to the Nikkei and helped the index to outperform Topix, which dropped 0.2 percent at 1,588.29.

Cyclicals led declining stocks, with Advantest Corp tumbling 2.9 percent, TDK Corp and Panasonic Corp both sliding 1.5 percent.

Shipping firms also fell, with Kawasaki Kisen down 3.1 percent and Mitsui OSK Lines off 0.6 percent.

Semiconductor equipment maker Samco Inc tumbled 11 percent after the company cut its net profit forecast to 350 million yen from 640 million yen due to weak orders for chip equipment. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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