Tokyo stocks close flat

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JapanBrokerage REUTERS A man looks at his watch as he passes an electronic board displaying a graph of currency rates outside a brokerage in Tokyo.

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks ended marginally higher Thursday, marking a fourth straight gain, but earlier rises were pared by a stronger yen.

The benchmark index edged up 11.41 points to 15,079.37, a more than two-month high, while the Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 0.10 percent, or 1.20 points, to 1,232.75.

Traders were given a healthy lead from New York, where shares ticked up on broadly upbeat data.

The Institute for Supply Management said activity in the services sector surged in May.

Also, the Federal Reserve's “Beige Book” report said all 12 districts of the country saw increasing economic activity in recent weeks.

That compares with April's report, which showed two districts saw a decline in activity.

However, payrolls company ADP said the US private sector created a net 179,000 new jobs in May, its lowest level in four months.

The S&P 500 rose 0.18 percent, the Dow edged up 0.07 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq gained 0.41 percent.

Investors are also keeping tabs on a European Central Bank meeting later in the day with expectations of a rate cut to ward off deflationary signs in the eurozone.

“With the ECB's likely rate cut already factored in, it's very possible that things are setting up well for a stock market selloff just after Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe makes his economic plan announcement,” Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“The volume we're seeing, while nominally good, still is not reflective of overwhelming long-term investor support.”

Japan's premier is expected to unveil a new slate of policies this month to stoke growth in the world's third largest economy, while the Japanese public pension fund may soon boost the portion of stocks in its huge portfolio.

Abe is also looking to cut one of the highest corporate tax rates among G7 nations.

On currency markets, the dollar weakened to 102.53 yen from 102.74 yen in US trade.

In share trading, SoftBank rose 0.32 percent to 7,817 yen following news reports that its US wireless unit Sprint was nearing a $32 billion buyout of rival T-Mobile.

Major exporters lost ground on the stronger yen which dents their profitability.

Toyota ended down 0.29 percent to 5,837 yen, Sony lost 0.30

percent to 1,656 yen, with Canon slipping 0.08 percent to 3,372 yen.

Electronics giant Sharp jumped 3.75 percent to 304 yen after Deutsche Bank upgraded its rating on the stock. - Sapa-AFP

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