Nikkei set to mark new 4-1/2 year high after Dow record close
TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is set to mark new 4-1/2 year highs on Wednesday, with sentiment for risk assets likely to gain an added boost after the Dow Jones industrial average climbed to a record closing high on signs of a strengthening U.S. economy. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 11,700 to 11,850 on Wednesday, after ending up 0.3 percent at 11,683.45 the previous day. At one point, it rose as high as 11,779.42, the highest level since September 2008. "Investors may chase the market higher to 11,800, but it may be difficult to hold above that level until the close," said Yoshiyuki Kondo, an analyst at Daiwa Securities. He added that most buying could come in early trade as investors will then begin to focus on economic indicators such as U.S. jobs data this week. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 11,830, up 1.2 percent from the close in Osaka of 11,690. The Nikkei has gained 12.4 percent this year, outperforming its global peers on the back of a weaker yen due to an aggressive easing stance from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Dow has added 8.8 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index has gained 8.0 percent while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index has advanced 4.9 percent over the same period. Analysts said domestic-demand focused stocks such as department stores will likely continue to attract buying due to recent strength in sales of luxury items. Hopes that Abe's reflationary policies will be effective are expected to lift asset-related shares which include warehouses and railroad stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped on signs of a strengthening U.S. economy, continued support from the Federal Reserve, and fairly attractive valuations compared to other assets. > Dow surges to new closing high on economy, Fed's help > Euro inches up vs dlr as Dow hits record > Prices ease as China, US hopes lift Dow to record high > Gold pares gains as Dow's record saps safety bid > Brent oil lifted by shut pipeline, China after 5-day fall STOCKS TO WATCH --Sharp Corp South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is in final talks with Sharp to invest about 10 billion yen ($107 million) for a 3 percent stake in the Japanese company, two sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters. --Panasonic Corp Panasonic has sold a central Tokyo building for around 50 billion yen ($536 million) to two Japanese investors, including the buyer of an office block Sony Corp sold last week. Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing, a unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc, will take a 90 percent stake in the 43-storey high-rise in Tokyo's Shiodome district, while Japanese real estate trust Nippon Building Fund Inc will take a 10 percent interest, Nippon Building Fund said in a statement on Tuesday.