Japanese stocks were flat in choppy trade on Thursday morning as optimism from the weakening yen offset mixed performances in US shares overnight, while Toyota Motor declined after its forecast undershot analyst expectations. The Nikkei share average rose 0.1 percent to 19,922.78 points in mid-morning trade, while the broader Topix fell 0.1 percent to 1,583.78 points. Toyota Motor Corp fell nearly 2 percent, after the automaker forecast operating profit to decline 20 percent on the year to 1.6 trillion yen ($14.06 billion) for this fiscal year to March.
The dollar was slightly up on the day at 114.31 yen after earlier rising as high as 114.37, its highest since March 15.
Traders said investors were cautious with the Nikkei benchmark index near the key resistance line of 20,000 points. “Most of the recent rallies were due to short-covering by foreign investors who had sold in March and April on geopolitical concerns before such concerns receded,” said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
Foreign investors sold a total of 1.6 trillion yen of Japanese stocks and futures between mid-March and mid-April, according to data from the Japan Exchange Group, the operator of Tokyo Stock Exchange. In the last week of April, foreign investors bought 569.65 billion yen in Japanese stocks.
“Short-covering seems to be continuing and will likely run its course shortly,” Miura said. “In order for new money to come in, we need to see solid gains in U.S. markets first as it’s an indicator of investors’ appetites.” In Japan, eyes were also on corporate earnings.
Takeda Pharmaceutical soared 2 percent after the drugmaker expected a 16 percent rise in its operating profit for the year through March. Conversely, TDK Corp dropped 2 percent after forecasting a 62 percent decline in its net profit for this fiscal year. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was flat at 14,145.18 points.