TOKYO, Nov 22 Japan's Nikkei share average is set to open firmer on Thursday and is within sight of a six-month high on expectations a sharply weaker yen will boost earnings for exporters. The dollar rose as high as 82.55 yen, its strongest level since early April, on a pledge by the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, tipped to take power in an election next month, to push for further central bank easing. A softer yen allows exporters to earn more when they repatriate overseas earnings, and boosts their competitiveness. "Investors are increasingly relieved that exporters' earnings will be better than expected if the yen's weakness continues," said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. But he added that with U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and the Japanese market closed on Friday for Labor Day, volume may stay low and gains could be trimmed in late trade. "Investors are likely to chase the market higher in early trade and secure profits later before the three-day weekend," Nishi said. The Nikkei climbed 0.9 percent to end at a two-month high of 9,222.52 on Wednesday, and the broader Topix advanced 0.7 percent to 767.01. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 9,325, up from the close in Osaka of 9,220. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 9,200 to 9,350 on Thursday. If the index breaches the 9,300-line, it will be the first time since May. Market analysts said investor sentiment remains upbeat, but markets are closely watching talks by U.S policymakers on how to avoid the U.S. "fiscal cliff," which has raised fears about the direction of the world's largest economy. "A lot of investors have positions to unwind when the Nikkei reaches 9,400," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities. "Until there is a clear sign that the U.S. fiscal cliff is resolved, the Nikkei's upside will likely be capped around this level as major Japanese stocks are highly sensitive to the health of the U.S. economy." > S&P 500 ends higher for fourth session in light volume > Euro rises against yen, edges up on U.S. dollar > Prices slip with profit taking in thin volume > Gold flat as Greek aid stalling, MidEast truce eyed > Oil ends up as pre-holiday covering offsets Gaza truce STOCKS TO WATCH --Toyota Motor Corp Toyota Motor is recalling about 150,000 Tacoma mid-size pickup trucks from the model years 2001 to 2004 in cold-weather U.S. states because the spare tire could fall off.
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