Source Pravda.Ru

Japanese stocks end flat as players await central bank interest rate decision

Japanese stocks ended flat Tuesday amid divided investor opinion over whether the Bank of Japan would raise interest rates the following day, after its two-day meeting.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 0.97 point, or 0.01 percent, to finish at 17,939.12 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On Monday, the index touched its highest close since May 8, 2000.

Investors held back amid uncertainty about prospects that the central bank would lift interest rates from the current 0.25 percent.

Last week, the government said Japan's economy grew at a stronger-than-expected annual pace of 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter the fastest pace in nearly three years. But some economists said that rise reflected a rebound in consumer spending from the previous quarter's drop, and wasn't enough to persuade the BOJ to tighten credit, reports AP.

During Tuesday's session, the broader Topix index, which includes all shares on the exchange's first section, rose to an intraday high of 1,784.20 at one point, the highest since Nov. 19, 1991. At that time, the Nikkei average was trading around 23,000. The Topix closed at 1,782.73, up 0.16 percent from Monday and the highest since April 7, 2006.

In currencies, the U.S. dollar was trading at 119.80 yen at 2:50 p.m. (0550 GMT) Tuesday, up from 119.56 yen late Monday in Frankfurt. The euro rose to US$1.3182 from US$1.3135.