Nikkei falls to 2-week low, Abe stimulus fails to inspire

Reuters

* Nikkei falls 0.7 pct, Topix down 0.6 pct

* SoftBank hits 13-1/2 year high

By Tomo Uetake

TOKYO, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The Nikkei stock average fell to a

two-week low on Wednesday, having failed to maintain earlier

gains in a choppy session, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's

stimulus package unveiled the previous day offered little

impetus for fresh buying.

Although global shares rose on hopes that the U.S.

government shutdown may not last long, many investors remain

cautious with no clear solution in sight for the more important

agenda of raising the debt ceiling by mid-October.

By the midday break, the Nikkei was down 0.7 percent

at 14,382.11 after trading as low as 14,359.98, its lowest since

Sept. 17. The benchmark is still up 38 percent this year.

"Now that the prime minister's plan has already been priced

in, there are not many positive trading factors to chase the

market high," said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin

Asset Management.

"Right now, investors are worrying about the U.S. debt limit

increase more than the government shutdown."

Abe decided on Tuesday to increase the sales tax to 8

percent from 5 percent next April as planned and announced a 5

trillion yen ($51 billion) stimulus package to help cushion any

blow to the economy.

He also said he has asked the ruling parties to promptly

begin deliberations on cutting the country's corporate tax rate.

"Not many players are trading today as institutional

investors moved to the sidelines," said Mitsushige Akino, chief

fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management.

"In the short term, I think the market will be in risk-off

mode. But once the U.S. debt ceiling gets resolved and earnings

reporting season kicks off, the Nikkei may top 15,000."

The broader Topix shed 0.6 percent to 1,186.83 in

relatively light trade, with volume at 45 percent of its full

daily average for the past 90 trading days.

Heavyweight SoftBank Corp climbed as much as 4.2

percent to hit a 13-1/2 year high and was the most-traded stock

by turnover on the main board. The tech and telecoms group,

which sells Apple Inc's iPhone in Japan, has gained more than 10

percent since Apple unveiled its new iPhone models last month.

On the downside, cyclicals and exporters led the declines,

with the nonferrous metals subindex falling 2.5

percent to become the worst performer on the Topix.

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