Japan’s Nikkei share average was flat in choppy trade on Friday morning as investors remained wary over the strength of the yen, which has taken a heavy toll on exporters and the broader market this week. The Nikkei was flat at 16,481.29 in midmorning trade, cancelling out earlier gains as investors refrained from taking positions before the weekend.
For the week, the benchmark index has fallen 2.6 percent, as investors rushed to the exit when the dollar dropped below 100 yen. On Friday, the dollar clawed back some losses against the yen, rising 0.4 percent to 100.22 yen, though it was still down 1.1 percent for the week.
Amid the cautious backdrop, traders said expectations for the Bank of Japan’s exchange traded funds (ETF) buying could help to steady the market. Other trading catalysts, including further insight into the U.S. rate outlook, may come from at an annual meeting of central bankers from around the world in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next week, they said.
“Comments from Fed officials are influential, so we will continue to monitor the forex market which has a big impact on Japanese stocks,” said Takuya Takahashi, an equity strategist at Daiwa Securities. Most U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers agree that more economic data is needed before raising interest rates, although some see a need to tighten policy soon, according to the minutes from the U.S. central bank’s July 26-27 policy meeting.
Cyclical stocks outperformed, with automakers and electronics shares rising. Toyota Motor Corp rose 2.5 percent, Honda Motor Co gained 3.1 percent, Advantest Corp added 2.2 percent and TDK Corp advanced 1.3 percent. Defensive stocks were under selling pressure, with land transport stocks and food processors falling sharply. East Japan Railway Co dropped 2.2 percent and West Japan Railway Co shed 2.9 percent.
Ajinomoto Co declined 2.3 percent and Kikkoman Corp shed 3.0 percent. The broader Topix dropped 0.1 percent to 1,289.45 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.2 percent to 11,595.56.