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Tokyo's Nikkei edges down on profit-taking

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[TOKYO] Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index edged down fractionally on Thursday as investors locked in recent gains that pushed the market to a two-month high.

The Nikkei 225 index lost 0.02 per cent or 4.77 points to close at 21,139.71 but the broader Topix index was up 0.03 per cent or 0.48 points at 1,589.81.

Tokyo stocks had opened higher, helped by a cheaper yen and expectations for progress in US-China trade talks.

But the Nikkei index fell into negative territory in late trading "as profit-taking emerged following sizable gains for the past two days," said Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato.

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"But market sentiment remains strong with positive factors, including a weak yen," Mr Sato told AFP.

The greenback was changing hands at 111.04 yen Thursday afternoon, up from 110.61 yen when the Tokyo market closed the previous day.

A lower yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it makes their products more competitive outside Japan and also inflates profits when repatriated.

Wall Street stocks rose for a second straight session Wednesday with investors betting that talks this week in Beijing between top US and Chinese officials will help avert new US tariff actions scheduled for March 1.

In Tokyo, Nintendo fell 0.61 per cent to close at 29,810 yen and Toyota lost 0.10 per cent to 6,618 yen.

Nissan was up 0.60 per cent at 944 yen ahead of new Renault boss Jean-Dominique Senard's meeting with officials from the Japanese carmaker.

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn on Wednesday shook up his legal team as he vowed to vigorously defend himself against financial misconduct charges.

Investor reactions were muted to Japan's growth data, released early Thursday, which fell within market expectations.

"But at least it's not regarded as bad news," Mr Sato said.

The world's third-largest economy expanded 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2018 after taking a hit from a series of natural disasters earlier in the year.

AFP