Japan's Nikkei seen retesting 53-month high on strong U.S. data
TOKYO, March 4 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected retest a 53-month high on Monday after data showed surprisingly strong U.S. manufacturing and consumer sentiment. Japanese exporters were likely to rise sharply as they benefit from strong growth in the United States. The upbeat U.S. data also weighed on the yen, which lost 1 percent to 93.685 to the dollar on Friday. The Japanese currency was quoted at 93.530 to the dollar on Monday. The Nikkei is likely to trade between 11,700 and 11,800, strategists said, which would eclipse the previous 53-month high of 11,662.52 tapped on Feb. 25. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 11,715 on Friday, up 1.3 percent from the Osaka close of 11,570. "The U.S. ISM was very strong and the consumer sentiment was good," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc. "The yen depreciated against the dollar. The closing price of CME futures was above 11,700. The Nikkei will go up to around the CME closing price." U.S. manufacturing activity expanded last month at its fastest clip in 20 months, while U.S. consumer sentiment also rose in February as Americans turned more optimistic about the job market. The Nikkei added 0.4 percent to 11,606.38 on Friday and was up 1.9 percent last week, rising for a third straight week. The broader Topix index gained 0.9 percent to 984.33. The benchmark Nikkei has rallied 34 percent since mid-November, driven by 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 advances as data outweighs budget cuts > U.S. dollar rallies, shrugs off gov't spending cuts > Treasuries rise as spending cuts point to weaker growth > Gold down on strong U.S. data, ignores spending cuts > Brent crude erases 2013 gains, slips on U.S. budget cuts STOCKS TO WATCH --TOYOTA MOTOR CORP Toyota and its China joint ventures sold 36,300 cars in the country in February, down 45.7 percent from a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said on Friday. Toyota posted a 4.3 percent year-on-year rise in vehicle sales in the United States last month, while Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co reported a 2 and 7.2 percent drop, respectively. --NOMURA HOLDINGS Troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena is seeking damages from two former executives and investment banks Nomura and Deutsche Bank over derivatives trades losses.
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