Nikkei flat as concerns about U.S. persist, Sharp gains

Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:23am IST

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* Risk aversion keeps market directionless-trader
    * Sharp jumps 7 percent on investment talks

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average held
steady on Wednesday, as worries about a potential U.S. fiscal
crisis and Europe's debt woes capped gains, while Sharp Corp
 rose on news of a possible investment.
    Sharp rose 7 percent as sources said U.S.-based Intel Corp
 and Qualcomm Inc are in talks to jointly
invest about 30 billion yen ($378 million) in the debt-stricken
consumer electronics maker. 
    But other exporters, whose performances depend on the health
of the global economy, weakened. Toshiba Corp, Komatsu
Ltd and Nikon Corp shed between 0.6 and 1.5
percent.
    "We all saw that companies reported weak earnings and cut
their full-year outlooks. We cannot buy stocks whose products
are particularly sensitive to global demand," said Makoto
Kikuchi, chief executive of Myojo Asset Management, adding that
trading may stay directionless while investors are risk averse.
    The Nikkei was flat at 8,664.38 after falling for a
seventh straight session on Tuesday. The broader Topix 
index was also flat at 722.31. 
    Aiful Corp climbed 9.6 percent to 263 yen,
recovering from Tuesday's 9.8 percent slide, after the consumer
financing company reported a 53.6 percent year-on-year rise in
first-half operating profit to 14.5 billion yen.
    "Since volume is expected to stay low, the cash market is
likely to be swayed by futures trading," said Hiroichi Nishi,
general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. "Although a technical
rebound is possible after the Japanese market has dropped a lot,
with such lingering concerns on the U.S. and Europe, investors
are staying risk averse."
    Concerns about the looming U.S. "fiscal cliff" may keep
trading subdued as lawmakers returned to Washington after the
Nov. 6 election. The market is grappling with how a divided U.S.
Congress will deal with the series of mandated tax hikes and
spending cuts that start next year and could take the world's
largest economy back into recession. Serious negotiations are
still weeks away, analysts said. 
    A euro-zone finance ministers' meeting on Monday gave Greece
two more years to make cuts, but held off disbursing more aid as
the euro zone and IMF clashed over a longer-term target date to
shrink the country's debt. 
    The benchmark is still up 2.4 percent so far this year but
lags behind a 9.3 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 and a
10.6 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600.
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