TOKYO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average slipped on Wednesday as investors took profits after a 10-day rally ahead of key central bank meetings in the United States and Japan, but continued to hover not far from its four-month high touched a day earlier.
The benchmark Nikkei average retreated 0.2% and closed at 21,960.71, near its four-month peak of 22,041.08 Tuesday, while the broader Topix dropped 0.5% to 1,606.62.
Investors broadly remained on the sidelines ahead of key policy decisions by the U.S. Federal Reserve due later Wednesday and the Bank of Japan (BoJ) on Thursday. But some trimmed positions ahead of the Fed’s policy meeting, analysts said. A 25 basis point cut by the Fed is seen as near-certain, with investors focusing on the so-called “dot plot,” which shows where policymakers expect rates to be in the future.
A Reuters poll pointed toward the Bank of Japan keeping its policy on hold. However, 28 of 41 economists expect it will ease this year and 13 believe it may surprise by taking action at the Thursday meeting.
Oil and gas-related companies, which led gains the previous day, dropped back as crude prices cooled on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia said the kingdom would fully restore its oil supply by the end of month following attacks on its oil facilities.
Japan’s biggest oil and gas developer, Inpex Corp, shed 4.2% and global engineering company JGC Corp fell 2.3%, while the oil & coal products sector dropped 3.6%.
On the flip side, electric and gas companies and sea transport - major beneficiaries of lower oil prices - were the top two performing sectors among the Tokyo bourse’s 33 subsector indexes, rising 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively.
Elsewhere, Sony Corp declined 2.2% after the electronics company rejected a call by Daniel Loeb’s activist hedge fund Third Point LLC to spin-off its chips business, saying that the business is “a crucial growth driver.” (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Gerry Doyle)