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Nikkei sheds some gains, brokerage firms fall

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Mar 23 (Reuters) The Nikkei average shed some earlier gains but was up 0.22 percent on Thursday with investors returning to technology stocks, but Daiwa Securities Group and other recent gainers faced selling pressure.

Takahiko Murai, general manager of equities at Nozomi Securities, said investors, aiming for short-term gains, are trading stocks in a short cycle, keeping the market in a range.

''Some investors are hoping to earn some pocket money before the end of March,'' he said.

Toru Otsuka, deputy general manager at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. Ltd.'s investment information section, said selling related to book closings at the financial year-end on March 31 has subsided but investors are not ready to push prices higher due to a lack of incentives.

''A lot of people expect the market to go up but they are wondering if their buying will be justified, with few factors around at the moment,'' he said.

Otsuka said the market has factored in government land price data due out at 0800 GMT. ''The market may not react unless the data is surprisingly strong,'' he said.

Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd. was down 0.4 percent 2,585 yen and Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. was unchanged at 2,560 yen.

The Nikkei was up 36.51 points at 16,531.99 as of 0448 GMT, while the broader TOPIX index was down 0.08 percent at 1,685.03.

Brokerage firms gave up recent gains.

Daiwa Securities lost 2.7 percent to 1,550 yen, snapping a three-day winning streak.

Likewise, Nikko Cordial Corp. shed 2.4 percent to 1,986 yen, losing some of its 9 percent gain from the last three sessions.

Mitsui Chemicals Inc. reversed morning gains to fall 3.5 percent to 905 yen after revising down its earnings forecasts due to higher procurement costs for petrochemical products.

But technology stocks, which were hit on Wednesday by news of a delay in the release of Microsoft Corp.'s new operating system, rebounded after rises on Wall Street.

Canon Inc. rose 2.2 percent to 7,860 yen, extending gains into a sixth session, after earlier hitting a lifetime high of 7,930 yen.

Electronics parts maker TDK Corp. rose 3 percent to 9,040 yen after it said on Wednesday it expects to pay a record dividend of 90 yen per share for the year ending this month.

The revised dividend, up from its October projection of 80 yen, would bring its dividend yield to around 1 percent, in line with the average for Nikkei 225 components.

Meanwhile, analysts said the market should remain supported next week as some investment trust funds are expected to be launched.

A Reuters survey showed on Thursday that few Japanese individual investors plan to scale back investment in the stock market just because the Bank of Japan ended its five-year-old ultra-easy monetary policy on March 9.

REUTERS SK KP1123

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