Japanese shares rally in final trades for the year

SINGAPORE, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Thursday, rallying after eight sessions of intra-day weakness in trades marking the final settlements for 2019 and driven by expectations of a Sino-U.S. trade deal early in the new year.

The Nikkei index was up 0.42% at 0147 GMT, to 23,883.43 points, taking its gains for the year so far to 18.83%. The broader Topix index was up 0.36%.

The rally was broad-based with investors counting on an end to the prolonged trade war to prop up a market that has been disproportionately hurt by flagging global demand, but led by the industrials and consumer discretionary sectors.

Under Japan’s T+2 settlement system, trades done on Thursday would be settled on Monday, the final trading day for the year.

“There were no major factors behind the rise and it was a natural rebound after a fall,” said Hiroyasu Mori of the investment strategy department at Okachi Securities.

“Market players appear to be betting shares will rise after tomorrow, which is effectively the start of new year trade.”

Volumes were however lower than usual. The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.33 billion, compared to the average of 1.17 billion in the past 30 days.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd up 1.57%, followed by SoftBank Group Corp.

There were 188 advancers on the Nikkei index against 32 decliners.

The Mothers Index of start-up firm shares was also up, gaining 0.79%. (Reporting by Vidya Ranganathan; Additional reporting by Fumiya Mizuno in Tokyo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)