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Tokyo: Stocks mixed by the close


[TOKYO] Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index finished in positive territory Wednesday on bargain buying after several days of losses, with Sony rallying more than four percent on news its North Korea satire "The Interview" was now its best-grossing online film ever.

The benchmark Nikkei at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which dropped more than 3.0 per cent on Tuesday, edged up 2.14 points to close at 16,885.33.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares finished down 0.10 per cent, or 1.34 points, at 1,359.80.

The Japanese market's tepid finish followed a weak lead from Wall Street where the Dow dropped 0.74 per cent Tuesday as oil prices hit a new five-and-a-half-year low.

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Also hitting sentiment, data showed the US service sector slowed in December, with a deceleration in business activity, new orders and prices.

"The US non-manufacturing data was worse than expected, slightly setting back the optimistic outlook on the US economy," Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Bloomberg News.

Tokyo investors are also keeping an eye on Greece, where an anti-austerity party leads polls ahead of a general election later in January, raising concerns the country could exit the currency bloc.

The dollar recovered slightly, rising to 119.09 yen from 118.50 yen in New York.

Sony soared 4.63 per cent to 2,552.5 yen after it said "The Interview" has made more than US$31 million on the Internet and other small-screen formats, its best-grossing online film ever. The film hit headlines last month when the Sony's film studio was hit by a hacking attack, which US authorities blamed on North Korea.

Including box office takings the movie has made some US$36 million, approaching its reported US$44 million budget, according to Sony's Hollywood studio.

Toyota rose 1.46 percent to 7,407.0 yen, while Nissan added 0.49 per cent to 1,005.5 yen after its chief executive Carlos Ghosn said global car demand would likely rise between two and three percent this year.

Takata jumped 7.01 per cent to 1,632 yen after banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group said it stood ready to help the auto parts maker, which has been hammered by an exploding airbag crisis.