Company News

Japanese shares close little changed, trading firms extend gains

TOKYO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks closed almost unchanged on Tuesday, as an extended rally in trading companies was offset by investors booking profits after a sharp rise in the last session.

The benchmark Nikkei share average was down 0.01% to 23,138.07, after flitting between positive and negative territories. There were 72 advancers against 146 decliners.

The broader Topix fell 0.15% to 1,615.81, with all but eight of 33 sectoral sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange trading lower.

Shares of trading firms extended a rally driven by the acquisition of a 5% stake by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in each of Japan’s five biggest trading houses.

Mitsubishi Corp gained 3.12%, Mitsui & Co rose 1.99%, and Sumitomo Corp added 1.86%. Marubeni and Itochu Corp rose 1.22% and 1.41%, respectively.

Broader investor sentiment received some boost from data showing factory activity in China expanded at the fastest clip in nearly a decade in August, bolstered by the first increase in new export orders this year.

Back home, data showed Japan’s jobless rate increased, the availability of jobs in July declined, and the country’s factory activity contracted at the slowest pace in six months in August.

But trading volume was slightly thin as some investors kept to the sidelines while waiting for new developments in the race to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 1.03 billion, compared to the 30-day average daily volume of 1.17 billion.

Life insurers, which rely on foreign bonds for income, dipped, taking overnight cues from long-term U.S. Treasury yields.

Tokio Marine Holdings fell 1.39%, T&D Holdings edged down 0.81%, and Dai-ichi Life Holdings lost 0.72%.

Elsewhere in the market, the Mothers Index of start-up firm shares jumped 2.93% to 1,154.51. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; editing by Uttaresh.V and Subhranshu Sahu)