November 24, 2017 / 7:09 AM / 23 days ago

Nikkei recoups losses on hopes BOJ will buy more ETFs, Mitsubishi Materials dives

TOKYO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei recouped early losses and ended slightly higher on Friday as expectations that the Bank Of Japan would buy more exchange-traded funds offset drops in automakers.

Mitsubishi Materials slumped, however, after it said its subsidiaries had falsified product data, the latest in a series of quality assurance scandals involving Japanese manufacturers.

The Nikkei share average ended up 0.1 percent at 22,550.85 points after trading in negative territory in the morning. If the index falls in the morning, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) often buys ETFs to support it.

For the week, the index rose 0.7 percent.

Also supporting sentiment was a Reuters news story in early afternoon that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Etsuro Honda, Japan’s ambassador to Switzerland, and Koichi Hamada, Abe’s economic adviser, for lunch at the prime minister’s office, according to sources.

Honda is seen as a potential candidate to succeed BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda when his five-year term ends in April next year.

“The news that Abe is meeting Honda in person, a believer of ultra loose monetary policy, triggered speculation about the prospect of the next BOJ governor,” said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Index heavyweigts rose, with SoftBank Corp gaining 1.4 percent and KDDI Corp advancing 2.6 percent. Tokyo Electron soared 2.2 percent and Shin-Etsu Chemical surging 2.0 percent.

Automakers were hit by selling, with Toyota Motor Corp dropping 0.8 percent and Honda Motor Co falling 0.7 percent.

Mitsubishi Materials Corp dived 8.1 percent after the company said its subsidiaries had falsified data.

The broader Topix rose 0.2 percent to 1,780.56. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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