Nikkei set to drop sharply on U.S. fiscal concerns
TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average is expected to open lower on Thursday, tracking hefty losses on Wall Street as investors worried that U.S. fiscal woes confronting President Barack Obama after his re-election could trigger a new recession. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,800 and 8,950, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 8,850 on Wednesday, down 1.2 percent from the Osaka close of 8,960. "Due to U.S. stock weakness and the strengthening yen, today's tone will be weak," said Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. "Some sectors will be hit harder than others by the yen's strength, but the overall trend today is minus." Overnight, the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 300 points in a sell-off that drove all major U.S. stock indices down more than 2 percent in the wake of the presidential election as investors' focus shifted to the looming 'fiscal cliff' debate and the European Commission's forecast that the euro zone economy would barely grow next year. Investors fear the 'fiscal cliff' -- a mix of tax increases and spending cuts due to extract some $600 billion from the U.S. economy in the new year -- could push the United States and possibly the global economy back into recession. Fitch Ratings, which has a AAA credit rating on the United States with a negative outlook, said failure to avoid going over the fiscal cliff and raising the debt ceiling "would likely result in a rating downgrade in 2013." The Nikkei ended flat at 8,972.89 on Wednesday, holding below its five-day moving average at 8,990.71, while the broader Topix index added 0.1 percent to 745.71. The benchmark Nikkei is up 6.1 percent this year, trailing a 10.9 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 and a 10.8 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index. Still, Japanese equities are slightly more expensive than their European counterparts, with a 12-month forward price-to-earning ratio of 11.3 versus STOXX Europe 600's 11, data from Thomson Reuters Datastream showed. The S&P 500 carries a 12-month forward P/E of 12.6. > Wall St sinks after election as 'fiscal cliff' eyed > Dollar up after US election, but fiscal worries dominate > Treasuries jump as Obama win drives monetary policy view > Gold up but off highs, post-election fiscal crisis eyed > Oil down about 4 pct, fiscal cliff looms after U.S. vote STOCKS TO WATCH --SONY CORP Sony's PlayStation 3 has received a certification of quality from a Chinese safety standards body, sparking speculation that China will end a decade-old ban on home game consoles. --MITSUBISHI CORP Mitsubishi Corp, Japan's biggest trading house, is almost done for now with investing in natural resources, after having spent more than $12.5 billion on copper, gas and coal assets in the past three years, its president said on Wednesday.