July 4 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks closed higher on Monday, supported by utility companies as the country continues to deal with an unprecedented heatwave heading into July, although its well-known department stores were among the worst performers.
Overall, investor sentiment remained muted due to the widespread fears of a global economic slowdown, with trading being slower ahead of Monday's Independence Day holiday in the United States.
A wait-and-see approach is seen among investors and price movements are limited because of the U.S. market holiday, said a market participant at a domestic asset management firm.
The Nikkei share average ended up 0.84% at 26,153.81 after briefly dipping below the psychological 26,000-mark in the morning session.
The broader Topix gained 1.34% to 1,869.71.
The Nikkei logged a weekly loss of 3.01% on Friday, while the Topix slipped 2.08%.
Overall, 179 of the Nikkei's 225 components made gains on Monday. Three were flat, while 43 made losses.
Given the lack of factors to encourage buying, the market is within the range of a rebound from the steep drop seen last week, another market participant at a domestic securities firm said.
Utilities gained 4.11%, making it the best performing sector on the Nikkei, with Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc surging 12.95%.
Mitsubishi Corp soared 3.98% after having fallen 5.21% last week.
Technology giant SoftBank Group was up 2.96%, after posting a weekly drop of more than 6%.
SoftBank-affiliated fund Fortress Investment Group was reported over the weekend to have offered more than 200 billion yen ($1.47 billion) to buy Seven & I Holdings' struggling department store unit Sogo & Seibu.
Department store owner J. Front Retailing Co. Ltd, however, tumbled 5.63% after it released sales data for its Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores after market hours on Friday.
Fellow department store company Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings lost 4.24% to join J. Front Retailing as the worst performers on the Nikkei. Takashimaya was close behind, losing 2.28%.
KDDI Corp lost 1.67% after falling as much as 3.9%, as the mobile operator experienced widespread network issues over the weekend.
Euro STOXX 50 futures were up 0.96% before markets opened in Europe. FTSE futures were up 1.1%. (Reporting by Sam Byford and Tokyo markets team; editing by Uttaresh.V)