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Tokyo: Stocks end nearly flat as investors cautious ahead of French election

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[TOKYO] Japanese stocks ended nearly flat for a second day on Thursday as investors became cautious ahead of global risk events such as the first-round of French presidential elections at the weekend and mounting tensions over North Korea.

The Nikkei 225 share average ended 0.01 per cent lower at 18,430.49 while the broader Topix gained 0.09 per cent to 1,472.81.

Mining stocks Inpex Corp and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co underperformed, falling 1.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively, after oil fell to a two-week low on Wednesday before recovering in Thursday's Asian trade. It was hit by a surprising build in US gasoline inventories and a rise in US crude output.

Gainers included chip makers after Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan said that producers of flat-panel-display equipment posted 55.86 billion yen (S$717.4 million) in orders in March and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.40, up 36.5 per cent from the previous month.

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Tokyo Electron Ltd rose 0.8 per cent and Advantest Corp jumped 4.5 per cent The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.05 per cent to 13,180.06.