Tokyo stocks flat at break, Nissan hit by output halt

Tokyo

Tokyo stocks ended flat Friday morning following the benchmark index posted its longest string of gains in nearly 30 years, while Nissan dropped after it suspended production citing an inspection scandal.
The Nikkei 225 inched up 3.26 points to 21,451.78 by the break, while the broader Topix index was just 0.35 points higher at 1,730.39. “There is no surprise to see profit-taking,” said Hikaru Sato, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.
But any selling to lock in profits was moderate. “Market sentiment is still not so bad,” Sato told AFP. A decline in the yen against the dollar was a positive for Japanese exporters.
The dollar rose to 113.21 yen Friday from 112.56 yen in New York Thursday afternoon, after the US Senate passed a 2018 federal budget, marking a key step for President Donald Trump’s tax-cut plans. On Thursday, the Nikkei index posted its 13th winning session and the longest positive run since early 1988—during the country’s bubble economy years.
Investors are focusing on a general election Sunday with opinion polls predicting an easy victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition. “If the coalition wins as expected, it will be a positive sign for the market,” Sato said.
Nissan dropped 1.82 percent to end the morning at 1,076 yen.
After the close of trade on Thursday, Japan’s number-two automaker said it was suspending all production destined for the local market as it grapples with a mounting inspection scandal that has already seen it recall some 1.2 million vehicles. “Its brand image deteriorated following yesterday’s announcement,” Sato said.
“The news came as Nissan was just recovering from a negative image related to the previous announcement. The timing was bad,” Sato said.
Rival carmaker Honda fell 0.54 percent to 3,436 yen but Toyota rose 0.21 percent to 6,995 yen.
In New York the Dow and S&P 500 eked out tiny gains at the close, adding modestly to records struck the day before.—AFP

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