Nikkei gains on weaker yen but stays trapped in range

 * Talk of injecting public funds supports market -analyst
 * Foreign buying weaker as nuclear outcome, fundamentals
unclear-analyst
 * Hitachi surges on plant restart report
 By Antoni Slodkowski	
 TOKYO, March 30 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average gained on
Wednesday after the dollar rose against the yen, but it remained
stuck in a narrow range for a seventh straight session with the
risk of a move lower seen increasing as bargain-hunting by
foreigners peters out.	
 Market players also said that the Bank of Japan's purchases
of exchange-traded funds under an asset purchase programme
adopted to bolster the economy was also lending support to the
market, although they warned that the impact would be
short-lived.	
 "Foreigners have stopped piling into shares on dips, and are
now mostly staying sidelined, waiting for more information on
fundamentals and further developments at the nuclear plant,"
said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a supervisor at Okasan Securities in
Tokyo.	
 Market players said that investors aiming to get out of
losing positions may begin selling around 9,600, keeping a cap
on the Nikkei's gains, and that investors may be waiting for the
market to fall after the end of the business year on Thursday
and again scoop up shares on dips.	
 "There's a big downside risk ... I think there were some
public funds coming in that supported the market yesterday, as
the authorities are wary ahead of the end the financial year,"
Ishiguro added.	
 A stronger dollar lifted post-quake underperformers like
Nissan Motor , which added 1.9 percent. Nissan has lost
more than 12 percent since the earthquake and tsunami hit
northeast Japan more than two weeks ago.	
 By the midday break the Nikkei gained 1.2 percent,
or 115.60 points, to 9,574.68. The broader Topix index 
advanced 0.7 percent to 856.03.	
 Japanese stocks have stayed trapped in a narrow range around
9,500 for seven days.	
 Both Nissan and Toyota Motor Corp , which have lost
a substantial amount of domestic production due to disruptions
in their supply chains, were among the most actively traded
shares by turnover on the Tokyo stock exchange's main board.	
 The biggest loser on the market was again the electric and
gas sector , down 4 percent, as Tokyo Electric Power
 dropped another 17.7 percent, adding to a slide to a
47-year low a day earlier as the government pondered whether to
nationalise the operator of a stricken nuclear
plant.[ID:nL3E7EU01N]	
 	
 BANKS LOSE	
 Another big underperformer is the banking sector ,
down 12.6 percent since the quake, with Mizuho Financial Group
 facing an inspection by financial authorities and down
2.1 percent at 137 yen on Wednesday, and other banks lower on
worries over loans to Tokyo Electric.	
 "You have to look at all the banks that are lending to the
company. It's obvious that investors are going to look at their
situation with a huge dose of scepticism," said Norihiro Fujito,
senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
Securities.	
 The banking sector was 0.8 percent lower on Wednesday.	
 Japanese shares have lost about 8 percent since the March 11
earthquake and tsunami, and a subsequent nuclear safety crisis,
triggered the biggest two-day rout in the market since 1987. In
contrast, the MSCI index of Asian shares outside Japan
 has gained 4 percent.	
 The dollar rose as a steady rise in U.S. yields gained
traction this week after several Federal Reserve policymakers
said the central bank would have to start tightening monetary
policy soon to avoid inflation.	
 Shares of Hitachi Ltd jumped 6.5 percent to 428
yen, helped by a Nikkei newspaper report that the electronics
giant had partially resumed operations at its biggest factory
complex with output expected to return to pre-disaster levels
next month. [ID:nL3E7ET31A]   	
(Additional reporting by Chikafumi Hodo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
and Edmund Klamann)	
 	
 	
	
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Nikkei gains on weaker yen but stays trapped in range