* Nikkei up 1.6 pct on possible IMF aid for Italy
* Record Black Friday sales raise hopes for strong Christmas
* Shippers, steelmakers, brokerages bought back
* Olympus down more than 10 pct in speculative trade
By Mari Saito and Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO, Nov 28 - The Nikkei stock average on Monday
rebounded from a 2-1/2 year low hit last week as strong U.S.
retail sales over the Thanksgiving weekend and a report that the
IMF was considering support for Italy sparked short-covering.
Market players bought back battered shares such as Nomura
Securities, shippers and steelmakers, though many
participants noted it was premature to count on clear progress
in measures to resolve Europe's debt crisis.
"Talk of support for Italy and reports of strong U.S.
holiday sales were supporting the market. But we're by no means
in a situation where we can become very positive about a
recovery in share prices," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, general
manager at Daiwa Securities.
The Nikkei rose 1.6 percent to 8,287.49,
moving away from a 2-1/2 year low hit last week and marking its
first gain in six sessions. The broader Topix index
gained 1.3 percent to 715.70.
The bounce in the Nikkei, in line with a rise in U.S. stock
futures and short-covering in the euro, comes after the Tokyo
index lost 2.6 percent last week.
"The market is now in a range-bound trading phase after
constant falls over the past two weeks. The market is still
hampered by doubts over the whether the IMF's support for Italy
is for real," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at
Italian daily La Stampa said the International Monetary fund
was preparing a rescue package worth up to 600 billion euros for
Italy, but such a sum would be beyond the IMF's current
capacity, raising doubts over whether such a scheme would be
Just after the Tokyo stock market closed, an IMF spokesman
said there were no discussions with the Italian authorities on a
programme for IMF financing.
Participants remained as wary as ever about the deepening
debt crisis in Europe.
"I thought Italy would stabilise a bit after Berlusconi left
office, but the downgrade in Belgium, the high bond yields
leaves an impression that Europe has entered a black hole," said
Fumiyuki Nakanishi, strategist at SMBC Friend Securities.
"You can't tell where the next landmine is," he said.
But reports of strong retail sales at the start of the
holiday shopping season helped ease some pessimism about the
U.S. retailers racked up a record $52.4 billion in sales
during the Black Friday weekend, up 16 percent from last year,
raising hopes that strong sales may continue through the
Shippers were the best performers on Monday, with the Tokyo
Stock Exchange's shipping subindex jumping 5.6
percent, after having lost more than 60 percent from this year's
peak in February by Friday.
Steelmakers, another recent underperforming
sector, rose 2.9 percent. Nomura Securities, which hit
a more than three-decade low last week, climbed 4.4 percent.
Scandal-hit Olympus Corp dropped 10.6 percent after
logging gains all last week, continuing what traders call a
"money game" of short-term speculative trading. It was the
third-heaviest traded share by turnover.
Ousted CEO Michael Woodford met with the Olympus board last
Friday and said the priority for all members were to meet the
Dec. 14 filing deadline and avoid delisting. Woodford is set to
meet officials from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Trading volume was subdued with 1.36 billion shares changing
hands on Tokyo's main board, about 15 percent below the average
of the last 20 days. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by
1,107 to 419.
(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Chris