Japanese shares inch higher as chip gains offset losses in cyclicals

TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) – Japanese shares ended marginally higher on Thursday, as gains by chip-related stocks tracking U.S. peers offset losses in cyclical shares.

The Nikkei share average rose 0.19% to close at 28,098.25, after losing as much as 0.80% earlier in the session, while the broader Topix edged up 0.04% to 1,895.92.

“The Japanese market does not have its own reasons for a movement right now after most of corporate outlook is out,” said Takatoshi Itoshima, strategist at Pictet Asset Management.

“While there are uncertainties surrounding Japan that weigh on sentiment, such as slow rollouts of vaccines and whether and how the Olympics will be held.”

U.S. main indexes closed lower overnight, however, Japanese chip related firms tracked the Philadelphia Semiconductor index higher, with Tokyo Electron and Advantest jumping 2.05% and 3.5%, respectively.

Index heavyweight Fast Retailing lost 0.52% after a report said that its Uniqlo brand shirts were blocked at the United States border in January on concerns they violated a ban on cotton products produced in the Xinjiang region of China.

Its rival Ryohin Keikaku, the operator of the Muji brand casual goods stores, also fell 1.6%.

Sompo Holdings fell 2.68% after the insurer flagged a 12.3% decline for its annual net profit forecast for the current business year.

Cyclical shares lost ground, with steel makers falling the most among the 33 industry subindexes on the main bourse. JFE Holdings Inc and Nippon Steel, which rose sharply in the past month, fell 5.96% and 4.83%, respectively.

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