Japanese stocks pulled back from 3-1-/2-month highs on Tuesday morning, though bank shares staged a rally on hopes of strong earnings for the sector.
The Nikkei share average eased 0.1 per cent to 22,845.67 in midmorning trade, after closing at the highest level since Feb. 2 on Monday. Earlier on Tuesday, it flirted with positive territory.
The broader Topix added 0.1 per cent to 1,808.05, reports Reuters.
The banking sector jumped 1.4 per cent and was the best sectoral performer, with Mitsui Sumitomo Financial Group rallying more than 3.0 per cent after it reported a 3.9 per cent rise in annual net profit helped by lower bad loan costs and gains from equity holdings.
It also said it will buy back up to 1.4 per cent of its own shares worth 70 billion yen.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group, which will report their earnings after the market close, rose 1.4 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.
Traders said that with the Nikkei reaching resistance of 23,000, profit-taking may accelerate especially in the face of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East with the high-profile opening of the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.
Tuesday’s losers include real estate companies, with Mitsubishi Estate stumbling more than 4.0 per cent and Mitsui Fudosan falling 1.9 per cent.
Meanwhile, MSCI changed constituents for its indexes on Monday. For the MSCI Japan Index, it added CyberAgent, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co, SG Holdings Co and Tokyo Centry Corp.
A mixed reaction followed the news, with CyberAgent declining 1.8 per cent, Kobayashi falling 3.6 per cent, SG Holdings rising 2.4 per cent and Tokyo Century dropping 2.2 per cent.
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