Nikkei steady, exporters rise on weak yen, financials retreat

Ayai Tomisawa
Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 | 9:33 PM ET

* Exporters rise as USD stays above 100 yen

* Non-life insurers, banks give up gains after rallies

* Nikkei likely to trade at 15,500 at year-end - UBS

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average was flat on Wednesday morning as recent outperformers including banks and non-life insurers pulled back, offseting gains in exporters after the dollar traded above 100 yen. The Nikkei was steady at 15,122.05 in mid-morning trade after gaining as much as 0.5 percent earlier, nearing a six-month high of 15,273.61 marked on Monday. Analysts say investors will likely remain cautious given the recent rapid gains in the market. The index is currently trading 3.8 percent above its 25-day moving average of 14,541.73. The Topix shed 0.1 percent to 1,235.86. Exporters were higher as the dollar fetched 100.11 yen after gaining 0.1 percent overnight. Panasonic Corp rose 1.5 percent, Toyota Motor Corp added 0.5 percent and Nikon Corp rose 1.4 percent. Over the medium term, the Japanese market is expected to extend its rally. The Nikkei is up 45 percent this year spurred by the government's massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. "Money has been shifting to equities from bonds, and this rally will likely continue throughout the year and even into next year," said Toru Ibayashi, executive director at UBS, adding that the Nikkei will likely trade around 15,500 at the end of the year. "The global economy is showing a recovery. Data in the U.S. and Europe are improving, while China is bottoming out," he said. Traders say investors will also remain focused on when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start tapering its stimulus, a major driver of global risk assets in recent years. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank remained committed to maintaining highly accommodative policies for as long as they are needed. Some of the recent outperformers took a breather on Wednesday. Banks and non-life insurers dropped as investors locked in profits after they rallied recently on strong earnings and bullish prospects. MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc shed 1.9 percent, while NKSJ Holdings Inc dropped 2.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shed 0.5 percent, Mizuho Financial Group dropped 1.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group fell 0.8 percent.