Nikkei eases after hitting 2-wk high, but helped by yen, oil

 * Nikkei meets resistance near 200-day MA after 2-week high
 * Weaker yen, higher commodities prices help Nikkei
 * Market awaits U.S. payrolls data
 By Chikafumi Hodo and Antoni Slodkowski	
 TOKYO, April 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average fell
slightly on Friday, running out of steam after advancing to a
two-week high, with investors keen to lighten recently built
positions ahead of the weekend and before the release of U.S.
payrolls data later in the day.	
 But Japanese shares were supported by a weaker yen and gains
in energy-related shares, such as Japan's biggest oil and gas
developer Inpex Corp  , due to strong rallies in
commodities prices the previous day.	
 The benchmark Nikkei climbed as high as 9,805.93 --
its highest since March 14 -- on follow-through buying spurred
by a weaker yen, after posting solid gains over the last two
sessions.	
 But the market ran out of steam as it approached closely
watched technical resistance at the 200-day moving average
around 9,820.	
 Investors were also cautious about holding onto big long
positions over the weekend as uncertainty lingered over the
aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and what looks
likely to be a prolonged nuclear crisis.	
 "The Nikkei has been pretty volatile recently. But now the
market's focus is on U.S. jobs data tonight before deciding what
to do next," said Shoji Yoshigoe, deputy general manager at
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.	
 "The Nikkei is supported by shares related to commodities
and resources," Yoshigoe said.	
 The Nikkei closed the morning session down 0.1 percent or
10.76 points at 9,744.34.	
 The broader Topix was down 0.2 percent or 1.77
points at 867.61.	
 The Nikkei had advanced strongly over the past two sessions
as market participants tried to lift the value of share prices
for domestic financial year-end book closings the previous day.	
 The market lacked energy as there were fewer participants
trying to push up prices on Friday.	
 Still, Japanese stocks drew support after the yen slipped to
a fresh three-week low against the dollar. The Japanese currency
 traded at 83.65 yen to the dollar on Friday morning. 	
 "Considering that today is the start of the new financial
year we saw some solid buying at the beginning, but the market
turned careful about extending purchases," said Kazuhiro
Takahashi, general manager at Daiwa Securities.	
 "Recent bullishness in U.S. stocks is encouraging, but at
the same time a strong economic recovery in the United States
would mean it may have to consider ending its current monetary
policy, which will be negative for shares."	
 	
 OIL RELATED SHARES, TEPCO	
 Shares in Japan's biggest oil and gas developer, Inpex Corp 
 , and other oil-related companies extended solid gains
made after the earthquake, as the price of oil hit a 2-1/2-year
high on Thursday on ongoing supply threats due to turmoil in
Libya and the Middle East.	
Inpex jumped 4.3 percent to 658,000 yen in heavy trade. It
has surged nearly 20 percent since the quake, while the
benchmark Nikkei has lost more than 7 percent in the same
period, as the disaster spurred demand for oil and gas products
amid a shortage of energy supplies.	
  The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index , a measure of 19
mostly U.S. commodity futures, finished the first quarter with a
strong 8.0 percent gain as global economic improvement began to
take hold.	
 The CRB's rally on Thursday, up 1.6 percent on the day, was
sparked by strong gains in oil and energy futures, cotton,
silver, copper and grains. Earlier in March the index reached
its highest level since September 2008. [ID:nN31561963] 	
 Shares of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) plunged
9.7 percent to 421 yen after climbing shortly after the opening.	
 The Mainichi newspaper, quoting an unnamed government
official, said on Friday the Japanese government was planning to
inject funds into the utility but was unlikely to take more than
a 50 percent stake in it.[ID:nL3E7EV46V]	
 Traders said TEPCO shares are mainly driven by short-term
speculators, trying to take advantage of massive volatility in
the shares since the earthquake.	
 "TEPCO is not a normal share anymore. The fate of TEPCO on
whether it will be nationalised or not is important," said a
trader at a Japanese brokerage house.	
 "But more than fundamental factors, speculators are simply
flocking into TEPCO shares and trading them aggressively, taking
advantage of extremely heavy volatility," he said.	
 (Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Michael
Watson)
 	
 	
	
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Nikkei eases after hitting 2-wk high, but helped by yen, oil