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TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks eked out small gains in thin and choppy trade on Monday, with retail investors hunting for small-to-mid cap stocks in the absence of foreign investors due to the Easter holiday.
The Nikkei 225 share average opened lower and moved closer to near five-month lows in the morning, after the dollar fell on rising tensions over North Korea, hurting such exporters as automakers on worries that a strong yen would eat into their earnings.
But the sell-off ended later in the session, with investors buying stocks sensitive to domestic demand.
The Nikkei ended 0.1 percent higher at 18,355.26 after falling to as low as 18,224.68 earlier.
Retail investors also chased small cap stocks, with the Tokyo Mothers market soaring 2.1 percent and the Nikkei Jasdaq market rising 0.7 percent.
The broader Topix added 0.5 percent at 1,465.69, with only 1.45 billion shares changing hands, the lowest level since early March. Turnover was 1.63 trillion yen, the weakest since late December.
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.4 percent to 13,141.92. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)