February 5, 2019 / 2:54 AM / 13 days ago

Japan stocks little changed, earnings caution stalls recent advance

* Nikkei inches down 0.04 pct after touching 7-week peak

* Panasonic slips after cutting earnings forecasts

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average handed back earlier modest gains and stood little changed on Tuesday, with a three-day winning run stalling as the market digested a series of corporate earnings.

At the end of the morning session, the Nikkei was down 0.04 percent at 20,875.38 after briefly brushing 20,981.23, its highest since Dec. 19.

The Nikkei had risen for the past three sessions and touched the seven-week peak after all three major indexes on Wall Street closed near session highs the previous day.

“Truly bearish factors are absent, but the market is tackling a series of earnings and that has slowed the recent advance,” said Soichiro Monji, senior economist at Daiwa SB Investments.

“Japanese corporate earnings have been quite good on the whole, but they tend to pale in comparison with some of the more bullish results witnessed on Wall Street.”

In addition to sustained optimism towards U.S.-China trade relations, high expectations for Alphabet Inc’s earnings were seen to have supported Wall Street by boosting technology shares.

Panasonic Corp fell 3.5 percent after it cut its annual profit outlook, saying a slowing Chinese economy caught in a trade war with the United States was seen hurting demand for auto components and factory equipment.

Electronic product maker Ibiden Co slumped 12.3 percent after slashing its net profit forecast for the year through March 2019 by roughly 90 percent to 1 billion yen ($9.09 million) amid decreasing demand in Europe for ceramic auto parts.

Cosmetics company Kao Corporation, on the other hand, surged 3.2 percent after raising its operating profit forecast for the year through March 2019 by 4.8 percent to 225 billion yen.

Aska Pharmaceutical advanced 5.5 percent after doubling its operating profit forecast for the year through March 2019 to 2 billion yen.

JCU Corporation, a maker of surface treatment materials such as rustproof coating for cars, jumped more than 19 percent after opting to buy back 3.77 percent of its shares outstanding.

The broader Topix edged up 0.25 percent to 1,585.24.

Of the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s (TSE) 33 subsectors, 27 were in positive territory. ($1 = 109.9800 yen) (Editing by Sam Holmes)

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