Nikkei heads for best year-end close since 1980s bubble
By Kevin Buckland
TOKYO, Dec 30 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average eased back on Thursday, the final trading day of 2021, but remained on course to mark its highest close for any year since the bubble era of the 1980s.
The benchmark .N225 slipped 0.07% to 28,794.24 by the midday break, with about 12 stocks declining for every one that rose in holiday-thinned trading, despite the tailwind from a record-high Wall Street close overnight. .N
The Nikkei was still on track for its best year-end finish since 1989, when the stock market closed at a record level before collapsing months later, ushering in a "lost decade", a banking crisis and years of deflation and weak domestic demand from which Japan has yet to recover.
The index has rallied about 5% this year, driven by fiscal and monetary stimulus as well as optimism for a post-pandemic economic recovery that has lifted stocks to records globally this year.
The broader Topix .TOPX was slightly higher at the break, up 0.05% at 2,000.05, which would also be the highest year-end close since 1989, following an almost 11% rally this year.
On the Nikkei, every sector was lower on Thursday, led by consumer cyclicals. Uniqlo store-operator Fast Retailing FRCOF was the biggest drag by index points, sliding 0.53%. Nintendo NTDOY was the biggest percentage decliner, dropping 1.84%.
"With the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus overseas, and ahead of a four-day holiday, it's hard to take positions," said a market participant at a domestic securities company.
Global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, Reuters data showed on Wednesday, as the highly infectious Omicron variant raced out of control. nL8N2TE11Q
Among notable winners on Thursday, Z Holdings YAHOF, formerly known as Yahoo Japan, jumped 4.41% to post the Nikkei's largest percentage rise.
Recruit Holdings RCRRF was the biggest gainer by index points, rising 1.39%.
(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Additional reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Devika Syamnath)