Nikkei set to gain on late Wall St rally, BOJ easing expectations
TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average is expected to open higher on Tuesday after U.S. stocks staged a late rally, while the confirmation hearing of Bank of Japan nominees should continue to boost expectations of further easing by the central bank. The Nikkei is likely to trade between 11,650 and 11,850, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 11,750 on Monday, up 0.9 percent from the Osaka close of 11,650. "Yesterday the Nikkei rose above 11,750 at one point but the Chinese market decline was a negative factor," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc. "However, the Dow Jones industrial average went up to almost an all-time high last night. That was positive news." Hiroki said Tuesday's confirmation hearing of Kikuo Iwata, the nominee for one of the deputy BOJ governors, would also support the market as the academic advocates unconventional monetary policy. "He is known as a strong deflation fighter. We expect aggressive comments from Mr Iwata. His speech is likely to support the market," he said. The Nikkei rose 0.4 percent to 11,652.29 on Monday after climbing to a 53-month high of 11,767.68 intraday as Haruhiko Kuroda, the nominee for BOJ governor, outlined a forceful policy to defeat deflation. The broader Topix index gained 0.8 percent to 992.25. The benchmark Nikkei has rallied almost 35 percent since mid-November, spurred by the weaker yen after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe embarked on bold reflationary policies to pull reignite the economy. Still, some analysts said many foreign investors remained sceptical about Japan's attempt to revive its economy but were afraid of missing out on the rally, prompting them to buy Nikkei index call options instead of picking up stocks. On Monday, the most traded Nikkei March index options was a call with a strike price of 12,000, 3 percent above the current level, Societe Generale said in a note. The next most traded was another call at 12,250, followed by a call at 12,500 and a put at 11,000. > Wall St closes higher in late-day rally > Euro sluggish on Italy uncertainty, ECB rate outlook > Treasuries ease as investors book profits > Gold eases as ETF holdings fall again, U.S. cuts eyed > Oil falls on slowing Chinese economy, ample U.S. supply STOCKS TO WATCH --TOYOTA MOTOR CORP Toyota will turn a profit in its European automotive business during the current fiscal year for the first time since 2007, a feat the company expects to repeat in fiscal 2013 as new models help seize market share from rivals. --HISAMITSU PHARMACEUTICAL CO INC A panel of advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended that the agency reject a drug for hot flashes associated with menopause made by Hisamitsu's subsidiary Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc. Ÿ --SONY CORP, DENA CO LTD Sony said it would sell all the shares it owns in Japanese online game provide DeNA to Nomura Securities, a unit of Nomura Holdings. --HONDA MOTOR CO Honda and its joint venture partners sold 32,024 cars in China in February, down 27.1 percent from a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said on Monday. --NISSAN MOTOR CO Nissan and its China joint venture sold about 58,200 cars in China in February, down 46 percent from a year earlier, the Japanese automaker said on Monday. --FAST RETAILING CO Fast Retailing said on Monday that same-store sales at its Uniqlo basic clothing outlets in Japan jumped 9.6 percent in February from a year ago.