February 14, 2019 / 7:06 AM / a year ago

Japan's Nikkei ends flat, takes breather after strong rally

* Nikkei up 0.1 pct, brushes highest level since Dec. 18

* Profit taking caps market after recent sharp gains

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average pulled back from two-month highs to end flat on Thursday, as investors took a breather from recent rallies and as some earnings disappointments capped the broader market.

The Nikkei edged down 0.02 percent at 21,139.71 after rising to 21,235.62, its highest since Dec. 18.

The gains were exhausted by profit taking, which emerged after the index rose nearly 4 percent in the previous two days amid expectations for reduced U.S.-China trade tensions and Washington avoiding another government shutdown.

“The index has become top heavy, though trading volume is quote solid so the downside should be limited,” said Katsuhiko Nakamura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

He said the Nikkei’s resistance is seen at its 200-day moving average of 22,104.

Exporters rose as the yen weakened to a seven-week low versus the dollar, with Honda Motor Co adding 1.3 percent and Advantest Corp surging 1.6 percent.

Index heavyweight Fast Retailing advanced 0.4 percent.

Asics Corp fell 5 percent after the sporting goods maker posted a net loss of 20.3 billion yen ($182 million) for the year through December 2018 amid weak sales in the United States and Australia.

Furniture retailer Otsuka Kagu Ltd slumped 5.4 percent after it said it was exploring options to bolster its finances, including through capital alliances. Otsuka Kagu added that it was in talks with several firms but that nothing had been decided.

Of the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s (TSE) 33 sub-indexes, 22 were in positive territory, led by oil and construction sectors.

The broader Topix was up 0.03 percent at 1,589.81.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,050 to 999.

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