July 30, 2018 / 6:46 AM / 15 days ago

Nikkei ends lower; focus on BOJ, Fed meetings

* Nikkei closes 0.7 pct lower as investors await key BOJ and U.S. Federal Reserve meetings

* Banking shares end higher

* Kansai Electric, Calbee slump on disappointing earnings

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks closed lower on Monday as possible changes this week in the Bank of Japan's monetary policy weighed on sentiment, while quarterly earnings were also in focus.

Japan's Nikkei share average closed down 0.74 percent at 22,544.84.

The broader Topix ended 0.43 percent lower at 1,768.15 while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dipped 0.47 percent to 15,620.76.

Investors were cautious ahead of key central bank meetings, including by the BOJ and U.S. Federal Reserve.

The BOJ will end a two-day meeting on Tuesday amid speculation it could roll back its purchases in the Nikkei-linked exchange-traded funds.

Reuters and other media reported earlier that the Japanese central bank could debate monetary policy changes at its meeting, with potential tweaks to interest rate targets and stock-buying techniques on the table.

"Investors are eager to confirm the outcome of the BOJ's policy decision," said Mitsuo Shimizu, Japan stocks strategist at Aizawa Securities.

"If the BOJ makes a policy change, it is possible the yen will strengthen, which is likely to affect stocks in a negative way. That's what investors are worried about," he said.

Of Tokyo's 33 sub-indexes, 21 ended the day in negative territory.

Bucking the overall trend, the banking sector ended 1.6 percent higher on hopes that the possible tweaks to the BOJ's policy may benefit banks' balance sheets.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group ended 1.6 percent firmer, while Mizuho Financial Group closed 1.3 percent higher.

The biggest losers included oil and coal producers and electric and gas firms, falling 1.5 and 1.4 percent, respectively. Shares of pharmaceutical manufacturers ended 1.4 percent down.

The corporate earnings season is in full swing this week, and investors are keeping tabs on how companies fared in the first quarter.

Electric power supplier Kansai Electric Power Co closed 3.6 percent lower after the company reported weak April-June earnings.

Calbee ended 8.5 percent lower after the snack maker's quarterly earnings fell short of market expectations given the firm's already-high valuations.

Ricoh Co and Alps Electric Co closed up 8.8 and 4.7 percent, respectively, after posting upbeat earnings.

More than 1,000 companies will report earnings this week, with 175 firms announcing results on Monday, including Orix Corp and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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