Nikkei seen lower on Wall St fall; investors cautiously await Q2 GDP
TOKYO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - The Nikkei average may open lower on Monday after Wall Street eased on worries about the tapering of U.S. economic stimulus, but investors remain cautious ahead of Japan's gross domestic product data due just before the start of trade. The benchmark Nikkei is likely to trade between 13,300 and 13,700, strategists said, after adding 0.1 percent to 13,615.19 on Friday. The broader Topix advanced 0.1 percent to 1,140.91 in thin summer trade. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 13,550 on Friday, down 0.9 percent from the Osaka close of 13,670. "You can't really predict today's market direction before the release of the second-quarter GDP data," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. "If the preliminary numbers are above market consensus, it would fuel hopes that the government can raise the sales tax rate as initially planned. On the other hand, if the figures disappoint investors, it could trigger a large selloff." Japan's economy likely grew an annualised 3.6 percent in April-June to mark a third straight quarter of expansion, a Reuters poll showed, adding to signs the positive effect of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reflationary policies is spreading. The reading will give the government justification to go ahead with a planned sales tax hike next year, although the decision will take longer and involve many other factors given its political sensitivity, analysts say. The yen was last traded at 96.30 yen against the dollar, moving away from a seven-week high of 95.81 yen touched last Thursday. A weaker yen tends to make export-reliant Japan's products more competitive in the global market. The Japanese currency is down 11 percent versus the greenback for the year, weighed by the Bank of Japan's radical monetary stimulus launched in April to end years of stubborn deflation and foster growth. The benchmark Nikkei is up 31 percent this year. > Wall St posts worst week since June with Fed in mind > Dollar rises from 7-week low, Aussie dollar rallies > U.S. bond prices post small gains > Gold up on safety bids as S&P dips for 2nd weekly gain > U.S. oil rises 2.5 pct on China, tight supply STOCKS TO WATCH --BRIDGESTONE CORP Bridgestone said its operating profit increased 42 percent year-on-year to 190 billion yen in the first half ended June 30, thanks to strong tire sales in North America. The tyre maker also raised its full-year operating profit forecast by 5 percent to 400 billion yen, citing a weaker yen. --MIZUHO FINANCIAL GROUP INC Mizuho, Japan's second-largest lender by assets, will consider buying back its shares from the market or raising its dividend in coming months if profit growth remains on target, a bank executive said. --JFE HOLDINGS INC JFE Holdings and the government of Myanmar have agreed to set up a joint venture to build bridges and other infrastructure there, the Nikkei business daily said.
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