Tokyo stocks edged up in choppy trade on Monday morning as investors waited for clues to when U.S. interest rates will next rise from key U.S. economic data, including jobs figures, to be released later this week. Markets showed a little reaction after North Korea fired what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile early on Monday. Trading was subdued, partly due to U.S. markets closure for the Memorial Day holiday later in the global day.
The Nikkei share average rose 0.2 percent to 19,716.68 in midmorning trade, after dipping into negative territory earlier. Traders said their focus was on a slew of U.S. economic data out later in the week, including jobs data on Friday, which will likely give an indication of the Federal Reserve’s policy intentions. “Markets’ interest has completely shifted to U.S. monetary policy heading into June as markets expect a rate hike,” said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.
He added that any sign that the Fed wants to shrink its balance sheet, by reducing the amount of maturing securities that it rolls over, may hit the stock market. With the currency level failing to serve as a catalyst, major exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 0.5 percent, Nissan Motor Co adding 0.2 percent and Panasonic Corp falling 0.4 percent.
The dollar edged down slightly to 111.23 yen but mostly held its ground. Mining stocks underperformed after oil prices remained weak as a relentless rise in U.S. drilling undermined an OPEC-led push to tighten supply. Inpex Corp dropped 1.1 percent, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co shed 0.1 percent.
Elsewhere, travel agency H.I.S. Co soared 15 percent after announcing a share buyback plan. Sharp Corp outperformed, soaring more than 4 percent at one point after it said it expects its first full-year net profit in four years. The broader Topix added 0.3 percent to 1,573.68 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.2 percent to 14,026.62.