Tokyo stocks close flat

Tokyo stocks closed flat on Monday, giving up early gains as investors retreated to the sidelines in thin holiday trade.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange edged up 0.08 percent, or 13.74 points, to 17,635.14, while the Topix index of all first-section issues gained 0.24 percent, or 3.44 points, at 1,413.05.

The benchmark Nikkei opened up 0.36 percent as the yen stayed weak against the dollar, a positive for Japanese exporters.

Recent falls in crude oil prices and the Russian ruble also eased, alleviating concerns over unstable global market conditions, said Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist for investment strategy at Okasan Securities.

"An excessive risk-averse attitude is easing," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

But investors retreated to the sidelines ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Tokyo markets will also be closed Tuesday for a national holiday.

In stocks trade, oil distributor Showa Shell jumped 27.64 percent to 1,302.0 yen after a weekend report that a bigger rival was eyeing its acquisition.

The Nikkei business daily said Saturday that Japan's second-largest oil distributor Idemitsu Kosan is planning to acquire Showa Shell in a deal worth an estimated $4.18 billion.

Idemitsu rose 2.46 percent to 2,075.0 yen.

Sony edged up 0.96 percent at 2,470.0 yen after US President Barack Obama warned North Korea that it would face retaliation for a crippling cyber attack on the group's Hollywood studio over an irreverent film comedy that infuriated Pyongyang.

On forex markets, the dollar edged up to 119.54 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, against 119.43 yen in New York.

bur-oh/ac

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