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Tokyo stocks close lower in muted trading

Tokyo stocks closed lower on Wednesday in thin trade with foreign investors absent for the Christmas holidays and few fresh market-moving events.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended down 0.20 percent, or 47.71 points, at 23,782.87, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.39 percent, or 6.80 points, to 1,721.42.

“Shares moved just narrowly, which is typical of year-end trade,” said  Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

Investors “do not need to move now in the absence of major trading pegs,” he said.

Investors took to the sidelines as major markets abroad — in New York, Hong Kong, and London, among others — are closed on Wednesday for the Christmas holiday, analysts also said.

In Tokyo, automakers were among losers, with Toyota slipping 0.83 percent to 7,676 yen, Honda losing 0.51 percent to 3,112 yen, and Mitsubishi Motors closing down 1.51 percent at 456.

Nissan dropped 3.13 percent to 633.1 yen after the crisis-hit automaker confirmed earlier media reports saying that its vice chief operating officer who is a key figure in restructuring the automaker has decided to quit just weeks after taking the job.

Jun Seki, 58, number three at Nissan, is expected to become president of major electric components maker Nidec, according to a source close to Nissan.

Nidec, in contrast, edged up 0.33 percent to close at 15,155 yen.

Elsewhere, Panasonic edged 0.97 percent lower to close at 1,012 yen and Sharp dropped 2.26 percent to 1,640 yen.

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