Nikkei up after choppy session

<p>The Nikkei rose slightly after a choppy session of trading.</p>

The Nikkei ended today's (April 1st) trading session up, despite a choppy period for the index.

It added 0.2 per cent over the course of the day to end up at 14,850.01, following on from the 0.9 per cent rise that took the index to a new three-week high yesterday.

Investors were keenly waiting to see if the launch of a new sales tax in Japan would have a major impact on the country's premier stock market. The tax comes into force today, rising to eight per cent from its previous level of five per cent.

A new report also showed that Japanese business sentiment remained broadly flat over the three months to March, with analysts taking part in the Bank Of Japan's tankan quarterly survey predicting confidence could be damaged in the coming quarter.

"Most companies are prepared to see weaker profits in the first quarter compared to the last quarter so this is not a surprise. That said, since the market saw a fiscal-year-end rally, investors are using the tankan result as an excuse to take profits," said Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset Management.

Indexes flat

While the Nikkei was able to record a small rise in its value during today's session, the broader Topix index was broadly flat for the day and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 slipped back by 0.1 per cent to end the day at 10,887.51.

Trading had been choppy on the Nikkei, with the utilities sector among the industries to be weighing heavily on the index today. Kansai Electric Power Co and Chugoku Electric Power Co were down by 3.1 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively after the Nikkei confirmed Hokkaido Electric is facing a third successive year of financial losses.

The utility subsector of the Nikkei was down by two per cent overall for the session after it was revealed Hokkaido is set to get a capital infusion from the government-owned Development Bank of Japan.

So far, 2014 has been a difficult year for the Nikkei, with the index losing some of the gains it piled up over the course of last year.

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