Nikkei set to revist 4-1/2 highs on Fed optimism, BOJ easing hopes
TOKYO, March 21 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to revisit 4-1/2 year highs tapped recently on Thursday, bolstered by the Federal Reserve's pledge to keep supporting the economy through stimulus, and as investors expect further easing steps under the Bank of Japan's new leadership. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 12,500 to 12,700, extending gains from Tuesday, when the index jumped 2.0 percent to 12,468.23 as fears receded that a controversial bailout proposal for Cyprus could reignite the euro zone debt crisis. Markets were closed on Wednesday for a national holiday. If the Nikkei tops the 4 1/2 year high of 12,560.95 level tapped on March 15, it will yet again mark the highest since early September 2008. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 12,580, up 1.3 percent from the close in Osaka of 12,420 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Haruhiko Kuroda, an advocate of aggressive easing, took over the central bank's helm along with his two deputies Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso. "The market expects easing at its first meeting (on April 3-4) under the new leadership, so until then, the market should stay strong," said Toshihiko Matsuno, a senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities. He added that investors were relieved after the Fed said it will retain its $85 billion monthly bond-buying programme to support the economy. While analysts are bullish about the Nikkei's outlook, they said the Japanese market is still vulnerable to the yen's rise. "Excessive worries about a bailout on Cyprus have receded, but we still need to stay alert on currency moves as we were caught off-guard by the yen's rise the other day" when the controversial Cyprus bailout plan rattled markets, Matsuno said. "We were reminded that the yen could be bought when investors want to avoid risks." Cypriot leaders held crisis talks on Wednesday to avoid a financial meltdown a day after the country's parliament rejected a tax on bank deposits, which had been proposed over the weekend by European Union officials. > Wall St ends higher as Fed keeps stimulus in place > Dollar rises vs yen after Fed; euro comes off lows > Gold slips after Fed maintains policy, euro rise aids > Brent oil rises from 3-month low as Cyprus concern eases STOCKS TO WATCH --Tokyo Electric Power Co After a power outage announcement by Tokyo Electric Power Co earlier this week, the U.N. atomic energy agency said on Wednesday that Japanese authorities have announced that the cooling systems at all spent fuel pools at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have resumed operations. --All Nippon Airways ANA, the biggest customer for Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner, wants the planemaker to compensate it in cash, rather than discounts on future purchases, for losses racked up since the aircraft was grounded worldwide in mid-January, said a person familiar with ANA's intention.
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