Nikkei slips from 3-week high; BOJ stimulus bets limit losses

Thu Apr 3, 2014 10:03pm EDT

* Caution rules ahead of U.S. payroll data
    * Nikkei capped below major resistance from Ichimoku cloud
top
    * SoftBank tracks U.S. tech shares lower

    By Hideyuki Sano
    TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) - The Nikkei average slipped from a
three-week high on Friday on caution before the release of U.S.
jobs data, but speculation that the Bank of Japan may adopt more
stimulus next week underpinned shares of real estate and
brokerage firms.
    Nikkei heavyweight SoftBank Corp fell sharply as
U.S. tech shares have come under pressure ahead of a planned IPO
of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings IPO-ALIB.N,
in which the Japanese firm holds a large stake.
    The Nikkei average was down 0.2 percent at 15,048.03
as of 0140 GMT, after failing the previous day to break above
resistance at 15,158, the top of the daily Ichimoku cloud.
    "It is natural to have a correction ahead of the U.S.
payroll data today and the BOJ's policy meeting," said Yutaka
Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
    "Given that the market is already expecting a strong payroll
number, there's risk the world's share prices could succumb to
profit-taking after the data," he added.
    Many investors are expecting the U.S. jobs report to provide
evidence that recent weather-related weakness in the economy has
passed. Economists forecast job gains of 200,000 jobs in March,
according to a Reuters poll.
    Information and communication shares were by far the worst
performer among the Tokyo Stock Exchange's 33 industry
subindexes. Softbank fell 2.4 percent after U.S momentum shares
like Facebook and Netflix tumbled. 
    SoftBank shares have become very sensitive to moves in U.S.
tech stocks ahead of Alibaba's IPO, which is expected become the
one of the largest offerings in history. Alibaba said last month
that it is planning its initial public offering in the United
States.
    On the hand, real estate was the top-performing
sector, up 1.8 percent, as speculators piled bets that the BOJ
may unleash further easing after its policy meeting ends on
Tuesday.
    Tokyu Fudosan rose 3 percent and Mitsubishi Estate
 gained 2.2 percent. 
    Brokerages and other financial companies
 also gained.
    The rise in these potential beneficiaries of monetary
easing, however, raised alarm bells among some market
participants.
    "Japanese market players believe 100 percent that there will
be no easing from the BOJ this time and the buying in these
shares are driven by event-driven hedge funds making bets ahead
of the BOJ meeting. I would say there is risk of a sharp
reversal after the BOJ's meeting," said Norihiro Fujito, senior
strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    Indeed, last month the Nikkei tumbled a total of almost
1,000 points after the BOJ shied away from taking additional
easing steps.
    The broader Topix index dipped 0.1 percent to
1,215.48 while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 slipped
0.1 percent to 11,019.72.

 (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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