TOKYO, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks ended essentially flat Thursday in choppy trade as transportation issues gained on hopes for increased demand, although concerns weighed over growth prospects in the United States.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average edged up 21.70 points, or 0.08 percent, from Wednesday to close the day at 26,171.25.
The broader Topix index, meanwhile, shed 0.91 points, or 0.05 percent, to finish at 1,851.74.
Local brokers said the market lacked direction for most of the day, with investors concerned that the U.S. Federal Reserve's continued moves to hike its interest rate to tackle inflation could spark a recession in the world's largest economy.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the previous day that the central bank is resolved to tackle rising inflation by raising its key interest rate. Powell conceded that the Fed's aggressive policy could lead to a recession, although this was not the bank's intention.
"When global markets are facing rate increases and recession, Japan is positioned differently," Shuji Hosoi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, was quoted as saying.
Market strategists here said that all eyes are now on the United States and the possibility of a recession triggered by the Fed's rate hikes would impact demand for Japanese exports.
"Currently, overseas investors are more focused on factors in the United States, such as what would happen to inflation or its economy, rather than what is happening in Japan," Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., was quoted as saying.
"Since foreign investors make up a large portion of investors in the Japanese market, they cannot buy shares at ease when their home markets are not stable," said Miura.
By the close of play, air transportation and food issues comprised those that gained the most, while mining and nonferrous metal led decliners on the Prime Market.
Transportation issues found favor in hopes for an increase in patronage after Japan and South Korea said they will resume flights between Tokyo and Seoul next week for the first time in two years due to the pandemic.
As a result, Japan Airlines climbed 1.9 percent, while ANA Holdings rose 2.0 percent.
Drinks makers advanced with Sapporo Holdings Ltd. gaining 2.6 percent, while Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. added 2.3 percent. Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd., meanwhile, ended the day 1.3 percent higher.
Pharmaceutical firm Shionogi tumbled 5.6 percent after emergency approval for the drug maker's oral COVID-19 drug was delayed.
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. was another notable loser plunging 6 percent to become the Nikkei's worst performer.
On the Prime Market on Thursday, 1,082.29 million shares changed hands, dropping from Wednesday's volume of 1,111.33 million shares, with issues that rose outpacing those that fell by 1,100 to 668, while 70 ended the day unchanged.
The turnover on the penultimate trading day of the week came to 2,652.82 billion yen (19.56 billion U.S. dollars). ■