Nikkei set to hold near 5-year highs; Fast Retailing eyed
TOKYO, April 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is likely to hold near five-year highs on Friday, underpinned by ongoing optimism about the economic outlook on the back of bold government and central bank policies, but the pace of gains may slow given the steep rise in the past week. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 13,400 to 13,600 on Friday after rising 2 percent to end at 13,549.16, the highest level since July 2008. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 13,495, up 0.04 percent from the close in Osaka of 13,490. Record closing highs on Wall Street overnight is also expected to support the local market. The Nikkei has gained nearly 10 percent since the Bank Of Japan stunned markets a week ago with a plan to inject $1.4 trillion into the Japanese economy over two years to beat deflation and achieve its target of 2 percent inflation. "Unless there are strong catalysts to drive the market higher such as the yen's further weakness to 100 yen against the dollar, profit taking is natural given the steep rises," said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities. The dollar last traded at 99.72 yen on Thursday, not far from the session high of 99.94, its highest level since April 2009. Overall, the Nikkei has surged over 50 percent since November on the back of the bold monetary and fiscal expansionist policies. Traders said the direction of the Nikkei on the day will also likely depend on the performance of index heavyweight Fast Retailing, which announced its forecasts for the year ending August. It left its full-year operating profit forecast unchanged at 147.5 billion yen ($1.48 billion), slightly lower than analysts' forecast of 149.9 billion yen. > Wall St rises for 4th day, but weak tech hits Nasdaq > Dollar hits 4-yr high vs yen, rise to 100 mark expected > U.S. bond prices rise, though Japanese bids elusive > Gold rebounds from 1-week low as dollar slips > Oil settles lower as demand view dims, inventory rises STOCKS TO WATCH --Fast Retailing Fast Retailing, Asia's biggest apparel company, left its full-year operating profit forecast unchanged despite a jump in sales in March at its flagship Uniqlo stores in Japan, as doubts linger whether aggressive economic policies will thaw a decades-long freeze in Japanese consumer sentiment. --Marubeni Corp Marubeni will form a joint venture with South Korean SK Shipping Co to buy two liquid natural gas (LNG) carriers to transport shale gas and lease them to Total SA, the Nikkei reported.