Nikkei set to slip after sharp rally, focus on BOJ
TOKYO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to open lower on Thursday, ahead of the Bank of Japan's policy meeting, after a sharp rally in the previous session that took the index to end above 10,000 for the first time since April. The Bank of Japan is expected to deliver its third dose of monetary stimulus in four months in a prelude to more aggressive action next year, as it faces intensifying pressure from the country's incoming leader for stronger efforts to beat deflation. The Nikkei is likely to trade between 10,000 and 10,200, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 10,140 on Wednesday, down 0.4 percent from the Osaka close of 10,180. "Nikkei futures held up on the CME, so stocks could build on gains, but after yesterday's surge, at least some selling is likely to emerge," said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities. "The Bank of Japan's meeting is the main focus today, but the outcome is already likely priced in to positions, so it could be a neutral factor, or even a negative factor if they take easing steps that disappoint." On Wednesday, the Nikkei jumped 2.4 percent to 10,160.40 to an 8-1/2-month high, logging its biggest one-day percentage rise since September 2011, while the broader Topix index surged 2.8 percent to 839.34 in heavy trading volume not seen since March 2011. Shinzo Abe, whose opposition Liberal Democratic Party won Sunday's election by a landslide, has called for the BOJ to adopt bolder policy action, including embarking on "unlimited easing" and setting an inflation target of 2 percent. His comments have softened the yen. Driven by the yen weakness, the Nikkei has rallied 17.3 percent over the past five weeks, taking the year-to-date gain for the Nikkei to 20.2 percent, outperforming a 14.2 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 and a 15.2 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600. Still, Japanese equities are much cheaper than their U.S. counterparts, with a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12.1 versus S&P 500's 12.7, data from Thomson Reuters Datastream showed. The STOXX Europe 600 carries a 12-month forward P/E of 11.4. > Wall St falls as 'cliff' talks sour, but hopes remain > Euro rises broadly on firm German data; yen underperforms > Treasuries rally as higher yields lure buyers > Gold ends flat, U.S. budget talks in focus > Oil rises on U.S. budget deal hopes, demand optimism STOCKS TO WATCH --MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP Mitsubishi Electric will likely have to pay about 50 billion yen ($593 million) in fines to the Japanese defense ministry for overcharging for defense equipment, the Nikkei business daily reported. --MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORP Mitsubishi Motors will recall about 1.2 million 660 cc minicar vehicles sold in Japan due to faulty engine oil seals, a part that prevents engine oil from leaking, the Japanese automaker said on Wednesday.