Nikkei seen in narrow range, firmer yen to cap upside
TOKYO, May 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to trade in a narrow range on Wednesday, not far its highest levels in almost five years, with some positive economic data from the United States lending support but a firmer yen capping the upside. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 13,750 and 13,950, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 13,855 on Tuesday, down 0.2 percent from the close in Osaka of 13,880. "There are both positive and negative factors externally," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex Inc. U.S. home prices rose in February at their fastest rate in almost seven years while consumer confidence rebounded in April. However, business activity in the U.S. Midwest unexpectedly contracted in April to its lowest level since September 2009. The dollar fell to its lowest level against a basket of currencies in two months on Tuesday as the deluge of U.S. data had investors discounting any pullback in the Federal Reserve's easy money policy any time soon. A drop in U.S. government bond yields has weighed on the dollar versus the yen. The Japanese currency was quoted at 97.42 to the dollar in early Asian trade on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the benchmark Nikkei slipped 0.2 percent to 13,860.86, while the broader Topix index gained 0.3 percent to 1,165.13. > S&P 500 ends at record high on Apple, economic data > Dollar drops to 2-mth low before Fed, ECB, U.S. payrolls > Bonds steady as refunding, central banks in focus > Gold falls ahead of central banks' policy meetings > Oil tumbles on weak U.S., euro zone economic reports STOCKS TO WATCH -SOFTBANK CORP SoftBank President Masayoshi Son came out swinging on Tuesday against Dish Network Corp's rival bid for Sprint Nextel Corp, saying the satellite TV company would cripple Sprint with debt and was ill-prepared to run a wireless service. -SHARP CORP Sharp looks to have suffered a consolidated net loss of about 500 billion yen for the fiscal year ended March 31, the Nikkei business daily reported. -ANA HOLDINGS INC, JAPAN AIRLINES CO LTD ANA and Japan Airlines, which together operate nearly half the world's fleet of Boeing Co Dreamliners, estimate the jet's three-month grounding will shave a combined $110 million of operating profit, an expense they may ask the American aircraft maker to shoulder.
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