Nikkei set to trade in range, US fiscal woes remain a focus
TOKYO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average is likely to tread in a tight range on Monday as upbeat economic data from the United States and China counters uncertainty over U.S. fiscal woes that threaten to push the world's largest economy into recession. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,700 and 8,800, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 8,750 on Friday, down 0.1 percent from the Osaka close of 8,760. U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in more than five years in November as consumers felt more optimistic about the economy and jobs market, while a jump in wholesale inventories suggested the economy grew more than initially estimated last quarter. Adding to the positive news, China's trade surplus ballooned to its biggest in 45 months in October as export growth darted to a five-month high above 11 percent, surpassing expectations. But Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc, said the U.S. 'fiscal cliff' -- about $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases which take effect in the new year unless President Barack Obama and the Congress agree to a deal -- remained a concern for the markets. "That uncertainty will remain in today's Tokyo market," he said, adding that a firmer yen would also weigh on the market. On Friday, the Nikkei dropped 0.9 percent to 8,757.60, down for a fifth straight session and hitting a four-week closing low. The broader Topix lost 0.6 percent to 730.74. The benchmark Nikkei was down 3.2 percent last week, its worst weekly performance in four weeks, but it is still up 3.6 percent this year. > Wall St ends higher, but investors still weary > Euro at 2-mth low vs dollar on European growth concerns > Treasuries rise as fiscal cliff uncertainty prevails > Gold posts weekly gain on U.S. fiscal crisis concern > Oil up on U.S. data; gasoline jumps on delivery jitters STOCKS TO WATCH --YAKULT HONSHA CO LTD The drinks maker said on Friday that it and Danone SA have agreed to continue talks on the French food company possibly taking a bigger stake in Yakult. --TOYOTA MOTOR CORP Toyota and group companies are to invest about 7 trillion rupiah ($727 million) in Indonesia over the next five years, in addition to recently announced plans totalling 6 trillion.