Nikkei set to rebound on Italy's debt auction, U.S. data
TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to rebound from a two-day losing run on Thursday after a well-bid Italian debt auction eased concerns that an inconclusive election could reignite the euro zone debt crisis. A gauge of planned U.S. business spending recorded its largest increase in more than a year in January and contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes approached a near three-year high last month, also helping to improve sentiment. The Nikkei is likely to trade between 11,350 and 11,550, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 11,445 on Wednesday, up 1.6 percent from the Osaka close of 11,260. "Investors' risk-off mode has eased somewhat after ... Italy's bond auction results were better than expected and in the U.S. there was good housing data released," said Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities. "However, I think the upside will likely be capped. The market may struggle to break the 11,500 level," he said. U.S. stocks advanced overnight, with major indexes posting their biggest daily gains since early January as data pointed to economic improvement and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke remained steadfast in supporting the Fed's stimulus policy. Bernanke's comments removed a headwind from markets arising from concerns the Fed might end its quantitative easing earlier than expected. The Nikkei dropped 1.3 percent to 11,253.97 on Wednesday, falling for a second straight day as Italy's political turmoil threatened to derail economic reforms demanded by the markets and backed by euro zone leaders. The broader Topix index lost 1.4 percent to 953.72. The benchmark Nikkei ended at a 53-month high on Monday, rallying nearly 35 percent since mid-November as the yen weakened after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the Bank of Japan to adopt more aggressive monetary policy in his election campaign. > Wall St gains on Bernanke comments, S&P above 1,500 > Euro advances but gains likely capped by Italy concerns > Treasuries slip as equity rally lures investors > Gold down 1 pct on U.S. Fed policy and budget cuts > Brent falls near month-low under $112 STOCKS TO WATCH --SOFTBANK CORP Wireless service provider Clearwire Corp said on Wednesday it would draw on $80 million in financing from Sprint Nextel Corp, which is seeking to buy it, but vowed to continue talks with rival bidder Dish Network Corp. Sprint is seeking U.S. regulatory approval for a deal to sell 70 percent of its own shares to Softbank.