TOKYO, Dec 10 Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to open higher on Monday after a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report, although a sharp drop in U.S. consumer confidence may cap gains. Exporters are likely to lead the rise, as the yen was traded at 82.55 to the dollar on Monday, not far from a 7-1/2-month high of 82.84 touched on Nov. 22. The Nikkei is likely to trade between 9,500 and 9,600, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 9,545 on Friday, down 0.2 percent from the Osaka close of 9,560. "The U.S. jobs data was better than expected, but the Michigan consumer sentiment data was disappointing and that kept U.S. gains in check and will likely do the same in Japan," said Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. U.S. employers created 146,000 jobs last month, defying predictions that superstorm Sandy would deal a big blow to the labour market, while the unemployment rate fell to a near four-year low of 7.7 percent. But a steep drop in U.S. consumer confidence in December, the largest fall in more than 1-1/2 years, offered a cautionary note on the health of the world's largest economy. On Friday, the Nikkei slipped 0.2 percent to 9,527.39, while the broader Topix added 0.2 percent to 790.24. The benchmark Nikkei is up 12.7 percent this year, in line with a 12.8 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 but lagging a 14.2 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index. > Dow, S&P rise on jobs, but Apple bites Nasdaq again > Dollar climbs vs euro on U.S. jobs data; Fed eyed > Treasuries fall on jobs growth, ahead of new supply > Gold rises from 1-month low after U.S. payrolls > Oil seesaws as U.S. job growth offsets budget deadlock STOCKS TO WATCH --TOYOTA MOTOR CORP Toyota is set to delay the launch of a new production line at its plant in Tianjin, northern China, because a decline in its Chinese sales is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, Japan's Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday. --PANASONIC CORP Panasonic, Japan's struggling maker of Viera brand TVs, is seeking buyers for some of its properties to trim its fixed costs and improve cashflow at a time of intense competition, particularly from South Korean rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. --KOMATSU LTD The construction machinery maker plans to invest 30 billion yen to 50 billion yen ($364 million-$607 million) over the next three years to make its Japanese plants more productive, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday. --TOSHIBA CORP Toshiba said its Italian unit has won a $243 million engineering, procurement and construction contract for part of an undersea power link between Italy and Montenegro.