Nikkei edges down in choppy trade; ex-dividend weighs

Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:38pm EDT

* Ex-dividend effect shaves off about 90 points from Nikkei
- traders
    * Aeon rises on tender offer to become top shareholder of
Daiei

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 27 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average edged
down on Wednesday in directionless trade after many shares went
ex-dividend, offsetting a boost to sentiment after Wall Street
gained on strong U.S. economic data.
    Traders said the effect of shares going ex-dividend -
Tuesday was the deadline for investors to buy shares and be
eligible to receive dividends for the current financial year -
took about 90 points off the Nikkei and about 9 points off the
Topix.
    The Nikkei was down 0.2 percent at 12,443.12 in midmorning
trade after opening a tad higher. The index is 1.7 percent below
a 4-1/2 year high of 12,650.26 struck last Thursday.
    Analysts said that investor sentiment remained positive on
the back of expectations for aggressive easing by Japan's
central bank but that trading may stay choppy on Wednesday.
    "If you take ex-dividend price declines into account,
overall gains will likely be limited at the end of the day,"
said Toshihiko Matsuno, a senior strategist at SMBC Friend
Securities. He added that the market remained nervous about the
euro zone's debt problems due to the negative implications of a
rescue plan for Cyprus.
    "In terms of global market news, there is a mix of both
positives and negatives, so most investors may stay on the
sidelines for now," Matsuno said.
    The broader Topix shed 0.1 percent at 1,043.27.
    The Dow Jones industrial average on Tuesday climbed
to another record close and the S&P 500 came within striking
distance of its all-time closing high, as strong data on home
prices and manufacturing fed optimism about the economy.
    On Wednesday, Aeon Co rose 5.5 percent after
sources told Reuters that the company would raise its stake in
Daiei Inc to more than 40 percent through a tender
offer to become the supermarket operator's top shareholder after
acquiring 24 percent from Marubeni Corp.
    Daiei dropped 11 percent.
    Real estate companies gained on hopes for the government's
reflationary policy, with Mitsui Fudosan rising 2.2
percent and Mitsubishi Estate adding 1.7 percent.
    "If the dollar trades above 95 yen, we may even see the
index climb back to near a recent high quickly on exporters'
gains," said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset
Management.
    The dollar last traded at 94.54 yen.
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