TOKYO, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index ended up marginally higher Wednesday as investors sought out issues of companies with positive earnings outlooks, although caution was prevalent ahead of U.S. inflation data due out later in the day.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average edged up 46.54 points, or 0.18 percent, from Tuesday to close at 26,213.64.
The broader Topix index, meanwhile, dropped 11.23 points, or 0.60 percent, lower to finish at 1,851.15.
Brokers here said that some investors sought out issues that had posted upbeat earnings outlooks recently.
Issues that had lost ground during the market's two-day retreat and relinquishing of around 3 percent, were also snapped-up, they said, although the index swung in and out of positive territory amid caution over the release later in the day of the U.S. consumer price index for April.
"Investors tried to look for stocks that had a positive outlook. Still, it was hard to make active bets before confirmation whether the U.S. consumer prices have peaked out or not," Shoichi Arisawa, general manager of the investment research department at IwaiCosmo Securities, was quoted as saying.
Some investors hit the sidelines as the U.S. consumer price index will directly inform the U.S. Federal Reserve's future monetary policy moves and how aggressively it may continue to hike its rates to combat inflation depending on the figure, dealers here said.
Other market players were inactive owing to the Dow Jones closing in negative territory overnight and denting sentiment here, they added.
By the close of play, marine transportation, and iron and steel issues comprised those that gained the most, while decliners were led by insurance and transportation equipment issues.
Issues that retreated outpaced those that advanced by 1,158 to 629 on the Prime Market, while 50 ended the day unchanged.
All eyes were on Toyota Motor Corp.'s earnings report, which showed the company's operating profit rose 36.3 percent to a record 3 trillion yen (23 billion U.S. dollars) in the last fiscal year, saw the automaker's shares drop 4.4 percent.
This dragged down the broader auto and parts sector by 3.3 percent as the Nagoya-based automaker also said that its operating earnings this year could tumble, owing to striking increases in materials and logistics costs.
Toyota also said its fourth-quarter profit had reversed 33 percent.
"While the figures were strong, the report fell short of the level of expectations by investors," Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist in the Investment Content Department of Nomura Securities Co., was quoted as saying.
He added that investor disappointment was also punctuated by Toyota saying it was also expecting a hefty decline in its operating income for fiscal 2022 from a year earlier.
Sony Group found favor, however, rising 2.1 percent, after reporting solid profits in fiscal 2021 and reporting that its fourth-quarter operating profit had more than doubled from a year ago.
Other issues gaining on solid earnings and outlooks included the Nikkei's biggest winner Wednesday, Yokogawa Electric, which surged 12.8 percent after announcing a 10 percent jump in its annual net profit.
Trading companies weighed on the market, however, owing to a pause in commodities prices which comprise crude oil futures.
As a result, Mitsui & Co. dropped 1.2 percent, while Sumitomo Corp. ended the day down 3.5 percent.
On the Prime Market on Wednesday, 1,368.54 million shares changed hands dropping from Tuesday's volume of 1,372.45 million shares.
The turnover on the third trading day of the week came to 3,204.54 billion yen (24.68 billion dollars). ■