Nikkei edges up in choppy trade after Bernanke's dovish tilt; BOJ eyed
* Nikkei choppy after Fed chief's policy comments * Traders reassess Fed stimulus outlook * BOJ outcome in focus By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, July 11 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged up on Thursday morning in choppy trade as the yen's rally paused, with global markets caught wrong footed after U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said that ultra-easy monetary policy would be needed for the foreseeable future. The dollar has been volatile on Thursday and last traded at 99.39 yen, rebounding from below 99 yen it traded earlier as investors reassessed the risk of an early end to the Fed's programme. The Nikkei turned up 0.2 percent to 14,451.89 in mid-morning trade after opening 1.0 percent lower on the back of the yen's initial surge. Bernanke said the U.S. central bank would continue to pursue an accommodative monetary policy, as inflation remained low and the unemployment rate might be understating the weakness of the labour market. The comments prompted investors to cut long dollar positions, sending U.S. Treasuries futures surging. The Japanese market has recently seen volatile trading as investors fretted about slowing growth in China and the prospect of the Fed rolling back its stimulus later this year. However, market participants said that investors are not overly concerned on whether the Fed will taper its stimulus because they have priced in such expectations on the back of the recovering U.S. economy. Exporters were mixed amid choppiness in the dollar-yen. Toyota Motor Corp fell 0.5 percent, Toshiba Corp dropped 1.5 percent, while Nissan Motor Co rose 0.4 percent. "We already know that the Fed will scale back its stimulus at some point as the U.S. economy is recovering, so that's not the main concern for the Japanese market," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. "Investors are now more sensitive to the yen's levels as the market's focus has shifted to evaluating companies' earnings." With the April-June earnings season just around the corner, people are focused on whether companies have benefited from the yen's fall to multi-year lows on the government's fiscal and monetary expansionary policies, he said. The Topix was flat at 1,194.93. "Those who had expected that the Fed's tapering could start as early as September were relived that it would come later than that," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of global equities at BNP Paribas. "Bernanke has done a good job in 'controlling markets expectations.' He has made it clear that the Fed will scale back its stimulus eventually, but has soothed tension by blurring the timing of the tapering." The Bank of Japan, which concludes its monthly two-day board meeting later in the day, is set to keep policy steady. The BOJ is expected to upgrade its view of the economy on expectations that a weak yen and its massive monetary stimulus already in place will be enough to offset the hit from slowing Chinese growth. The Nikkei is up nearly 40 percent this year, underpinned by the Japanese government's sweeping stimulus policies.
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