Nikkei seen rising, BOJ expected to calm tensions over policy easing
TOKYO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average is set to rise on Thursday, with the Bank of Japan's widely-expected decision to leave policy unchanged potentially soothing international tensions over Japan's aggressive monetary easing that's driven the yen lower. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 11,250 to 11,400 on Thursday, with exporters rebounding from weakness in the previous session, when the yen rebounded after a Group of Seven official voiced concern about excessive moves in the yen. The Nikkei dropped 1 percent to 11,251.41 on Wednesday after the yen firmed to as much as 92.82 against the dollar. It weakened to 93.25 before Thursday's stock market open. Also likely to support early trade on Thursday was a 0.5 rise in Nikkei futures in Chicago to 11,315, up from the close in Osaka of 11,260. The Bank of Japan is expected to keep monetary policy steady at the end of its two-day policy meeting on Thursday, but may improve its assessment of the economy and rebuff growing global concern that Tokyo is trying to deliberately weaken the yen. The yen had slumped 15 percent against the dollar since mid-November, accelerating as Japan's new government put relentless pressure on the BOJ to launch more aggressive policy easing. The yen's slide has sparked concerns of a currency war due to the risks of competitive devaluations. "Usually the BOJ doing nothing causes a bit of disappointment, but since there are concerns about the flak Japan might get at the G20 this weekend for the weakening yen, standing pat will actually be a relief to the market," said Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities. > Wall St pauses after rally to 5-yr high > Yen flat as cautious investors trim bets ahead of G20 > Prices fall after lukewarm 10-year auction > Gold drops below $1,650, focus shifts to equities > Brent firm near $119, U.S. crude stocks rise STOCKS TO WATCH - ASAHI GROUP HOLDINGS LTD Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings posted record sales and net profit for the year ended December 31 on Wednesday, with the latter reaching 57.18 billion yen. The beverage maker also said it would buy back up to 30 billion yen ($322 million) worth of its own shares, or 4.3 percent of all its issued stock. - ORIX CORP Financial services firm Orix Corp said it is in talks to buy Dutch asset manager Robeco from its owner Rabobank as a local newspaper reported the companies are close to reaching a deal, which could be worth around 3 billion euros ($4 billion). -SHIMANO INC Bicycle parts maker Shimano posted an operating profit of 40.96 billion yen ($438 million) for the year ended December 31, slightly above guidance of 40 billion yen, and forecast operating profit to increase by 5 percent in the current year. -TONENGENERAL SEKIYU Japanese refinery group TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK, in which Exxon Mobil has a stake, will cut 16 percent of its 661,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude refining capacity by March 2014 to meet government rules on improving refinery efficiency, according to the Nikkei business daily.
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