Nikkei set to rise on end-of-month short-covering
TOKYO, June 29 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is likely to rise on Friday as a spurt of month-end short covering winds back quarterly losses, although early trading may be depressed after EU leaders ended the first day of a summit at loggerheads.
The Nikkei has fallen 12 percent so far in the second quarter, which ends today, wiping out much of the first-quarter's 19.3 percent surge, the biggest first-quarter gain in 24 years.
Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,750 to 8,950, potentially dipping initially before gains accelerate into the afternoon session as investors unravel their short bets.
"Hopes for any significant progress at the EU summit have already evaporated, but if they don't even agree on the details of the Spanish bank bailout and hint that the ECB will drop rates, there will be disappointment," said Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities.
Euro zone leaders are to conclude the two-day meeting later on Friday to discuss how to tackle an expanding debt zone crisis. On Thursday, Italian and Spanish leaders refused to sign a growth package until Germany agreed to a short-term plan to reduce the cost of their credit.
Nikkei futures in Chicago <0#NIY:> closed at 8,835, down 0.4 percent from the close in Osaka of 8,870.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Europe, the Nikkei ended 1.7 percent up on Thursday to its highest close in six weeks, buoyed by investors indulging in "window dressing" as the month and second-quarter drew to a close.
However, market watchers said trading has been thin recently, making the index's gains less significant, and that it could make a reversal in early July as concerns about slowing global growth and an intractable euro zone crisis creep back in.
> Wall St pares losses late, ends modestly lower > Euro falls to more than 3-wk low as EU leaders meet > U.S. bonds rise with safety bid during EU summit > Gold down over 1 pct on US healthcare ruling, Europe > Oil heads for worst quarter since 2008 crisis
STOCKS TO WATCH
-NOMURA HOLDINGS INC
Nomura Holdings is to cut top executives pay and may halt some operations as it attempts to solve an insider trading scandal, according to sources.
A management committee is to meet on Friday to approve the pay cuts and other measures after an internal investigation.
-SUZUKI MOTOR CORP
Suzuki Motor Corp announced at a shareholders meeting on Wednesday that it is planning to increase its capital expenditure by over 60 percent, spending an average of 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion) through 2016, according to the Nikkei business daily.
-ASAHI GROUP HOLDINGS
Asahi Group Holdings is expected to post an operating profit of about 35 billion yen ($441 million) for the six months ending in June, a drop of 5 percent year-on-year, due to high promotion costs for nonalcoholic beverages, according to the Nikkei daily. ($1 = 79.3100 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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