TOKYO Japan's Nikkei share average is set to rise on Thursday, supported by gains for domestically driven stocks, although the upside could be limited as hopes dwindle for a credible fix to the euro zone's debt crisis at an EU summit.
Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,700 and 8,850 on Thursday after Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 8,785, up 0.5 percent from the close in Osaka of 8,740.
"We're likely to see gains off a strong performance in U.S. markets overnight, but the focus is going to be on stocks driven by domestic demand," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex. "There's probably strong resistance above 8,800, which it struck on June 25."
The Nikkei rose 0.8 percent to 8,730.49 on Wednesday, powered by gains for construction and real estate, two sectors expected to benefit from a spike in demand before a consumption tax hike is introduced in 2014.
Exporters were given the cold shoulder amid uncertainty before a two-day meeting between euro zone leaders starting later on Thursday. While hopes are fading that the meeting will produce significant policy decisions to tackle the euro zone crisis, investors are waiting on the outcome before making major changes in position.
The Nikkei is still short of its five-day moving average at 8,750.30, but is clear of its 14-day average at 8,659.12. The benchmark index is currently down 13.4 percent on the quarter, which ends on Friday.
STOCKS TO WATCH
-NTT DOCOMO INC (9437.T), KDDI CORP (9433.T)
Mobile phone operators NTT Docomo Inc, KDDI Corp and eAccess Ltd are expected to improve their reception as the telecom ministry will allocate a 700-megahertz radio frequency band to them, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday.
-TOYOTA MOTOR CORP (7203.T)
Toyota is planning to expand its technical partnership with BMW (BMWG.DE), sources told Reuters on Wednesday, to include hybrid powertrains and lightweight design.
-MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP (6503.T), TOSHIBA CORP (6502.T)
EU regulators lowered fines for Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba for fixing prices in gas insulated switchgears. Mitsubishi Electric will have to pay 74.8 million euros ($93 million), down 37 percent from the fine set by regulators in 2007, while Toshiba will have to pay 56.9 million euros, 37.5 percent lower than the original amount.
-TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER CO (9501.T)
Tokyo Electric Power Co is to seek partners to help fund conventional power plants, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday. The utility was one of nine electricity companies that held shareholder meetings on Wednesday, where shareholders voted to keep nuclear power.
($1 = 79.7600 Japanese yen) ($1 = 0.8028 euros)
(Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Richard Pullin)