Nikkei choppy ahead of US jobs data; Egypt, Portugal developments eyed
* Egypt, Portugal developments eyed - analyst * Upside likely around 14,500 in next few weeks - analyst * Suntory Beverage and Food extends gains By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, July 4 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged up in choppy trade on Thursday as investors were cautious ahead of crucial U.S. jobs data on Friday, while worries over political turmoil in Egypt and Portugal dampened sentiment. The Nikkei gained 0.1 percent to 14,070.93 in midmorning trade after opening a touch lower. Analysts said the market was underpinned on modest gains in U.S. stocks before the Independence Day holiday on news of surprisingly strong private sector job creation. Although the country's services sector data showed unexpectedly weak growth, investors took comfort from the survey's employment gauge. "Investors are focused on Friday's U.S. jobs data, so they won't take large positions today... but it's a good sign that U.S. stocks rose before the holiday," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. "Volume is likely to stay low because of fewer participants as the U.S. markets will be closed later today." Still, while some exporters gained as the dollar is trading around 100 yen, the market is cautious about the yen's levels due to unrest in Egypt and political turmoil in Portugal, where talks over the government's future threatened to reignite the euro-zone crisis. Sony Corp gained 0.9 percent and Nikon Corp added 1.4 percent. The dollar last traded at 99.93 yen. Suntory Beverage and Food Ltd climbed 1.6 percent at 3,195 yen, extending its previous session's 1.5 percent rise from its initial public offering price of 3,100 yen. The stock will be added to the large cap segment of the MSCI Global Standard Indices after the close of July 17, traders said, adding that passive fund managers are expected to rebalance their portfolio by adding Suntory Beverage shares. The Topix shed 0.1 percent to 1,172.42. Traders expect some volatility in the Nikkei in the next few weeks ahead of major events such as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech next week and Japan's upperhouse election later this month. "The market could see volatility depending on the outcomes of these events this month," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities. "But the Nikkei is gaining momentum on a weak yen and U.S. economic recovery hopes, and its upside is likely be around 14,500." Market participants also said that investors are focused on developments in Egypt, where at least 10 people were killed when opponents and supporters of the country's deposed president, Mohamed Mursi, clashed after the army announced his removal on Wednesday. In Portugal, the 10-year bond yield shot above 8 percent and its stock market slumped 5 percent on fears a snap election could derail Lisbon's exit next year from a bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The Nikkei has dropped 11.7 percent since reaching a 5-1/2 year high on May 23, hurt by slowing growth in China, worries about an imminent rollback of the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus and disappointment over the Japanese government's recently unveiled growth strategy.
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