Nikkei set to rise as yen hits 7-mth low vs dollar
TOKYO, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The Nikkei is expected to rise on Wednesday, led by exporters after the yen hit a seven-month low versus the dollar on expectations the Bank of Japan will be pushed to take aggressive stimulus action under a new government. Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe has called for more extreme steps from the central bank, including "unlimited easing", pushing interest rates below zero and directly underwriting bonds issue to fund public works, to stimulate the ailing, export-reliant economy. His comments ahead of a Dec. 16 election have whipsawed the yen, which hit a seven-month low of 81.80 yen to the dollar on Wednesday. A softer Japanese currency allows exporters to earn more when they repatriate overseas earnings, as well as increasing their competitiveness. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 9,150 and 9,300, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 9,215 on Tuesday, up 1 percent from the Osaka close of 9,120. "We don't expect to see big moves today, but the market will likely rebound within a range," said Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. "In terms of sectors, exporters will be in focus because of the weaker yen." On Tuesday, the Nikkei dipped 0.1 percent to 9,142.64, snapping a four-session rally driven by the weakening yen, while the broader Topix was flat at 762.04. The benchmark Nikkei is up 8.1 percent this year, boosted by a 5.7 percent rally from Nov. 14 to 19. Still, the Japanese index lags a 10.4 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 and a 10.2 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index. > Bernanke's 'cliff' comments break two-day rally > Yen sinks on mounting political concerns on BOJ's stance > Treasuries down on fiscal hopes, before supply > Gold down on Gaza ceasefire hope, Bernanke comments > Oil drops after Hama says Gaza truce agreed STOCKS TO WATCH --PANASONIC CORP Moody's Investors Service cut Panasonic's long-term debt rating by two notches to its lowest investment grade on Tuesday, saying dwindling sales of its consumer electronic devices were pressuring earnings. --SHARP CORP The struggling Japanese TV maker said on Tuesday about 3,000 of its workers volunteered for early redundancy, far more than the 2,000 it aims to lay off in a bid to trim costs amid mounting losses. --ITOCHU CORP Russian industrial giant EN+ signed an agreement with Japanese trading firm Itochu to build a $500 million gas-powered electricity generator that will almost double its Avtozavodskaya power station output.