Nikkei seen topping 12,000 on overseas lead

Thu Mar 7, 2013 6:43pm EST

TOKYO, March 8 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is
expected to top the 12,000 mark on Friday, buoyed by signs of
improvement in the euro zone and bullish jobs data from the
United States, with domestic stocks also underpinned by
expectations of aggressive monetary easing.
    Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between
11,900 and 12,150 on Friday after Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 12,135, up 1.5 percent from the close in
Osaka of 11,900. 
    A slew of options and futures will expire on Friday morning
in a so-called options "SQ", or "special quotation", which
usually spikes volumes.
    "The point to watch out for is whether the Nikkei can top
the options settlement price. All the positive news from
overseas suggests it has the momentum to do so," said Yoshihiro
Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities.
    European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said he expects
economic activity in the euro zone to gradually recover, given
firming global demand. He held interest rates at current levels
but cut growth forecasts for the region in 2013, leaving room
for future rate cuts.
    Strong U.S. jobless claims data signalled further
improvement in the country's employment market, propelling the
Dow to record highs for a third straight day. Investors are now
awaiting non-farm payroll data out later on Friday. 
    On Thursday, the Nikkei struck a fresh 4-1/2 year high,
closing up 0.3 percent to 11,968.08 after climbing as high as
12,069.60 earlier in the day on expectations of more aggressive
monetary easing once new governor Haruhiko Kuroda takes his
seat.
    Outgoing governor Masaaki Shirakawa kept monetary policy
unchanged as expected at the end of his last policy meeting on
Thursday.
    "Although a weaker yen allowed exporters to power the
beginning of this rally, the focus is now turning to stocks
linked to domestic demand, which should continue to push the
Nikkei up," Ito of Okasan Online Securities said.
    
> Dow closes at another high, eyes turn to U.S. payrolls 
> Euro bounces back as Draghi dampens easing view        
> Prices fall as jobless data stirs optimism on economy  
> Gold drops as stimulus hopes fade, payrolls eyed       
> Crude rises on surprise drop in U.S. jobless claims    
    STOCKS TO WATCH
    - SHARP CORP 
    Sharp is likely to seek fresh bank loans to help it repay a
$2.1 billion convertible bond due in September, with no further
equity deals likely after Samsung Electronics Co 
agreed to buy a 3 percent stake in the company for $111 million,
three sources familiar with the matter said. 
    -NIPPON SHEET GLASS CO LTD 
    Nippon Sheet Glass is to shut two factories in the U.K. this
spring due to weak glass demand in Europe, with over 90
employees to be dismissed, according to the Nikkei business
daily. 
    -NAKAYAMA STEEL WORKS LTD 
    Nakayama Steel is to turn five group companies into wholly
owned subsidiaries as part of its plan to restructure its
operators with the help of the government-backed Enterprise
Turnaround Initiative Corp, the Nikkei newspaper said on Friday.
   - KIRIN HOLDINGS CO LTD 
    Kirin will invest around 7 billion yen ($74 million) to
boost beer production in its Australian group company Lion, the
Nikkei business daily reported on Friday, quoting the CEO as
saying the company will strengthen its foreign acquisitions this
year.
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