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Tokyo: Stocks close flat as Sony soars on fund stake report

[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks closed flat Tuesday ahead of key events including an European Union (EU) summit, while Sony surged more than 9 per cent on a report that a US hedge fund plans to bump up its investment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.19 per cent, or 40.94 points, to 21,802.59, but the broader Topix index eased 0.09 per cent, or 1.38 points, to 1,618.76.

"Trade is seen lacking a sense of direction and investors are taking a wait-and-see attitude ahead of the IMF growth forecast this evening and the EU summit and the ECB meeting" on Wednesday, Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.

Investors are shifting their focus to earnings as major Japanese firms are set to start releasing their full-year results later this month, brokers said.

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"Investors want to check the impact of China-related factors on earnings of Japanese firms" following the US-China trade war, Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management, told AFP.

The dollar fetched 111.35 yen in Asian afternoon trade, against 111.49 yen in New York on Monday.

Sony jumped 9.26 per cent to 5,250 yen following a report that hedge fund Third Point is raising funds to build up its stake in the Japanese electronics company.

The article said the group led by activist investor Daniel Loeb was aiming to raise between US$500 million and US$1 billion to increase its holding in Sony and push for changes.

Third Point has a reputation for aggressively pushing reforms at key firms and has targeted Sony before, unsuccessfully pushing it to spin off its entertainment division.

The current size of Third Point's stake in Sony is not clear, and there was no immediate confirmation of the report from either side.

Energy firms were higher, reflecting rallies in crude prices, with oil developer and refiner JXTG gaining 2.94 per cent to 555.1 yen and its rival Inpex up 1.02 per cent at 1,080 yen.

Nintendo jumped 1.93 per cent to 33,240 yen but market heavyweight SoftBank Group lost 0.41 per cent to 10,830 yen.

AFP