Nikkei seen easing from 4-year high on profit-taking

Wed Feb 6, 2013 11:39pm GMT

TOKYO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is
expected to edge lower on Thursday as investors take profits
after the index jumped to a four-year high, while caution ahead
of a central bank policy meeting in Europe may curb risk
appetite.
    Market strategists said the Japanese market is likely to
rise in the mid-to-long term on hopes for aggressive monetary
easing by the central bank. But a correction may be in sight
after recent sharp gains, while investors are expected to take a
wait-and-see approach on Europe where European Central Bank
policymakers are due to meet Thursday. 
    "Hopes for 'Abenomics' are supporting the mood, but
investors are also sensitive to the currency moves, so right
now, even small uncertainty on Europe can be a reason to pull
back," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC
Nikko Securities.
    Analysts said that the Nikkei average was likely to
trade between 11,300 and 11,500 on Thursday after surging 3.8
percent to close at 11,463.75 on Wednesday, its highest since
October 2008.
    Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa on Tuesday said he
would step down, together with his two deputies, three weeks
before the end of his five-year term in April. 
    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has put the central bank under
relentless pressure to do more to pull the economy out of the
doldrums. He has made it clear that he wants a governor who will
be bolder in loosening monetary policy. 
    The yen, which fell to a 33-month low of 94.08 to the dollar
on Wednesday, last traded at 93.60.
    Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 11,410, down
from the close in Osaka of 11,430.
     
 
> Wall Street ends flat as investors pull back            
> Euro slumps vs dollar, yen as ECB policy meeting eyed 
> Bond prices up as euro zone tensions rattle investors  
> Gold quietly higher; players eye ECB meeting, equities 
> Brent rises, U.S. crude dips on inventory build        
    STOCKS TO WATCH
    
    --GS Yuasa Corp 
    Boeing Co is working on a series of battery design
changes designed to minimize fire risks on its grounded 787
passenger jet and get the plane flying again as soon as March,
the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. 
    GS Yuasa is the battery maker for the Dreamliners.
    
    --Nissan Motor Co 
    Nissan's U.S. arm is preparing to expand its lineup of
full-size pickup trucks as it replaces the aged Titan, which has
not been significantly refreshed since it was introduced in
2003, the company said on Wednesday. 
    
    --Fujitsu Ltd and Panasonic Corp 
    Fujitsu and Panasonic will merge their chip units in the
next fiscal year, sources said, in the latest example of
Japanese firms combining struggling units to compete with the
likes of South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd..
 
    Separately, Panasonic has sold two of its office buildings
in central Tokyo to raise around $100 million as the company
tries to improve its balance sheet by selling non-core assets,
sources with direct knowledge of the transactions have told
Reuters. 
    
    --Honda Motor Co 
    The Thai unit of Honda Motor said on Wednesday it would
invest more than 20 billion baht ($673 million) to build a new
assembly plant and expand an existing factory to tap strong
local demand and boost exports. 
    
    --Mazda Motor Corp and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd
 
    Mazda and Fuji Heavy are best placed among Japanese
carmakers to benefit from the weakening yen, raising their
earnings forecasts as exported goods bring in more cash.
 
    
    --Tokyo Electric Power Co 
    Tepco, Japan's biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer,
has secured its first supplies of the fuel based on prices at
the Henry Hub delivery point in the United States, part of a
shift in Asia away from oil-linked pricing.