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TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei share average eased slightly on Thursday but stayed on track for its best month in two years, as bets on a peak in US interest rates buoyed equities globally.

Japanese stocks also got a boost from a robust corporate earnings season earlier this month, as a weaker yen buoyed exporters and retailers successfully passed on higher costs to consumers.

The Nikkei entered the midday recess down 0.2% at 33,255.37.

The market was mixed, with 115 of the index’s 225 components falling versus 104 that rose, and six were flat.

For the month, the Nikkei is up 7.77%, the most since November 2020.

The broader Topix lost 0.11% as of the break, heading for a monthly gain of 4.80%.

“Markets are now firmly embracing the idea that the Federal Reserve is done hiking, and its next move will be a cut,” said Tony Sycamore, an analyst at IG markets.

“With the Nikkei having had the opportunity to consolidate gains and rebuild energy, the backdrop looks supportive for it to retest and break above resistance at 34,000 in the final weeks of the year.”

The Nikkei reached a 33-year peak of 33,853.46 on Nov. 20.

On Thursday, chip-testing equipment maker Advantest was both the Nikkei’s biggest percentage gainer and top points gainer, rallying 3.28%.

Overnight, the Philadelphia SE semiconductor index rose 0.94%, compared to a very mixed performance by Wall Street’s main three indexes.

Tokyo shares fall on profit-taking

Shippers were the top performers among the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry groups, up 1.14%.

At the other end, rail operators led losses with a 0.97% slump.

On the Nikkei, cosmetics maker Shiseido was by far the biggest percentage decliner, dropping 5.07%.

The biggest drag by index points was Uniqlo store operator Fast Retailing, due to its massive weighting. It was down 1.26% at the break.

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