November 14, 2018 / 7:05 AM / a month ago

Nikkei ends higher in choppy trade; utility cos outperform on drop in oil

* Power cos surge on reduced cost hopes after oil prices fall

* Mining, trading house stocks weaken

* Tech shares rebound on short-covering

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei ended higher in choppy trade on Wednesday as short-covering in electronics component makers and tech shares helped offset weakness in resource stocks dragged down by falling oil prices.

The utility subsector rallied on speculation that a drop in oil prices would contribute to lower costs for power companies.

The Nikkei share average rose 0.2 percent to 21,846.48, after trading in positive and negative territory during the day. On Tuesday, the Nikkei tumbled to a two-week low, dragged down by the sell-off in tech shares and Apple suppliers.

“The market’s major concerns are oil price moves and development in U.S.-China trade war, and these factors will likely determine stocks’ performances for the time being,” said Katsuhiko Nakamura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said on Tuesday that the United States welcomed the resumption of trade talks with China, while Vice President Mike Pence warned Beijing to change its behaviour to avoid a new cold war with the United States.

Short-covering helped Apple supplier TDK Corp soar 3 percent. Chip equipment makers Tokyo Electron rose 1.3 percent and Advantest Corp gained 3 percent.

Power companies outperformed after oil prices tumbled 7 percent on Tuesday, hit by ongoing worries about weakening global demand and oversupply.

Tokyo Electric Power jumped 6.8 percent and Chubu Electric Power surged 3.7 percent.

Mining stocks and trading houses, which have commodity prices at the core of their businesses, were sold. Inpex Corp shed 1.9 percent, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co slipped 2.1 percent, Marubeni Corp dropped 2.2 percent and Mitsui & Co tumbled 3 percent.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group surged 1.5 percent after the bank raised its net profit outlook to 950 billion yen from 850 billion yen for the fiscal year ending March.

It also said it would buy back up to 100 billion yen, or 1.52 percent, of its outstanding shares.

The broader Topix added 0.2 percent to 1,641.26. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa, editing by Eric Meijer)

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