TOKYO: Japan's Nikkei share average erased early losses and scraped out gains on Monday as expectations that the Bank of Japan would buy more exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offset drops by financial stocks.
The central bank periodically buys ETFs as part of its easy monetary policy.
Movements in Japanese equities were confined to a narrow range with foreign investor presence lacking due to Monday's closure of other major markets for Christmas.
The Nikkei finished 0.16 percent higher at 22,939.18. Of Tokyo's 33 subsectors, 10 were in the red, led by securities and banking after their U.S. financial peers lost steam on Friday following their recent strong performance.
Denim clothing store operator Jeans Mate soared 20.2 percent after reporting that December existing store sales increased 13.2 percent from a year earlier.
Furniture and interior goods seller Nitori Holdings sank 6.4 percent after the company saw its operating profit for the nine months through to Nov. 20 rise a modest 0.3 percent to 70.4 billion yen ($621.58 million).
Nitori's sales for the same period increased 11.5 percent but costs of opening stores and renovations to existing ones were seen to have reduced profits.
Internet provider GMO Internet Inc, which is engaged in the "mining" of bitcoin, fell 4.8 percent.
Remixpoint Inc, an operator of virtual currency trading post services, dropped 4 percent.
The broader Topix was 0.16 percent higher at 1,831.93. ($1 = 113.2600 yen) (Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Richard Borsuk)
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