Tokyo investors eye Japan, US data in last week of ’15

AP and AFP

TOKYO/NEW YORK — Japanese factory output and U.S. consumer confidence are among the few trading cues in the last trading week of the year, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 on track to be one of the best-performing major stock indices globally. The Japanese market is open from Monday through Wednesday in what is expected to be quiet trading in a holiday-shortened week. On Friday, Tokyo closed lower, as a strong yen dented exporters, with most Asian markets shut for a public holiday. However, mainland Chinese shares rose on stimulus expectations, though gains were limited by the lack of trading enthusiasm as the year end approached, dealers said. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.43 percent, or 15.42 points, to 3,627.91. It rose 1.37 percent over the week. The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, gained 0.57 percent, or 13.36 points, to 2,359.73. It climbed 1.03 percent during the week. Most other regional financial markets were closed.

The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.11 percent, or 20.63 points, to 18,769.06 by the close. Over a holiday shortened week, it lost 1.15 percent. Japanese markets were closed Wednesday for a public holiday. The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares dropped 0.49 percent, or 7.43 points, to 1,516.19. It was down 1.36 percent this week. With just a few days left of 2015 trading, the Nikkei is among the best-performing stock markets globally, rising 7.55 percent since the start of the year. The TOPIX index is up 7.72 percent since the end of 2014. Shortly before markets opened Friday, official figures showed Japan’s inflation rate ticked higher in November — the first gain in five months — but still-weak household spending weighed on the world’s number three economy. In share trading, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries dropped 4.64 percent to 517.5 yen after it said Thursday it was postponing delivery of the first made-in-Japan passenger jet by one year to the second quarter of 2018. The company cited “several issues” discovered after the jet’s maiden test flight last month.