TOKYO, March 28 Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to edge down on Thursday, hurt by weakness in the euro due to concerns about Italy's funding costs and the rescue deal for Cyprus. But hopes for bold monetary easing in Japan are expected to provide a firm floor for the market. Exporters with high exposure to the euro zone such as Mazda Motor Co and Nikon Corp may underperform after political uncertainty in Italy drove its borrowing costs to five-month highs. Players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 12,400 to 12,550 on Thursday. It ended slightly higher at 12,493.79 the previous day but is 1.2 percent below a 4-1/2 year high struck last Thursday. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 12,490, down 0.2 percent from the close in Osaka 12,520. "We have major events to look forward to next week (in Japan), so investors may not build large positions this week, and worries about Europe are souring the mood," said Kenichi Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana Securities. Next week, the Bank Of Japan's tankan survey is scheduled to be released on Monday while the central bank's first policy meeting under its new leadership will be held April 3-4. Sources told Reuters the BOJ is likely to start open-ended asset purchases immediately, rather than in 2014, and consider setting a new target to buy longer-dated bonds at its rate review next week. > Wall St ends flat on late buying, Cyprus woes linger > Euro sinks to 4-mth low vs dollar on Cyprus, Italy woes > Yields lowest in three weeks on euro zone safety bid > Gold edges up on euro zone fears, Fed stimulus hopes > Oil higher but rising crude inventories limit gains STOCKS TO WATCH --Nissan Motor Co Political friction between China and Japan has delayed by one year a Nissan plan to gain 10 percent market share in China, Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn told Reuters Insider on the sidelines of the New York auto show on Wednesday. --Nomura Holdings Italy's financial police searched the Milan offices of Nomura on Wednesday as part of an investigation into Italian lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena, judicial sources said. --Toyota Motor Corp Toyota will start selling vehicles in 2015 under its new plan to ramp up the use of shared parts as it catches up with rival Volkswagen, which pioneered the strategy. --Mitsubishi Motors Corp, GS Yuasa Corp, Mitsubishi Corp A lithium-ion battery on a single Mitsubishi Motors Outlander plug-in hybrid overheated last week, the Japanese carmaker said on Wednesday, as the technology faces scrutiny following failures on Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner jets.