Nikkei hugs gains after rally, TEPCO jumps despite uncertainty

 * Foreigners stepping aside as market nears technical
resistance-analyst
 * TEPCO up 8.6 pct; buying by speculators, short-term
investors cited
 * Banking shares bought back, TEPCO's gains help
 * Year-end window-dressing gives boost to Nikkei - chief
dealer
 By Antoni Slodkowski	
 TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average held on
to the previous day's solid gains on Thursday and briefly hit
its highest since the post-quake sell-off, helped by year-end
window dressing, while strong U.S. data bolstered the global
outlook and a weaker yen boosted exporters.	
 But the benchmark struggled to move decisively higher, as
foreign investors were reluctant to buy shares they viewed as
too expensive with the market slowly approaching key technical
resistance.	
 Shares of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the
owner of the quake-stricken nuclear plant, bounced back 8.6
percent, lifting stocks related to the utility such as
shareholders Dai-ichi Life Insurance and Sumitomo
Mitsui Financial Group by more than 1 percent each.	
 Traders said TEPCO's shares were mostly bought by
speculators and short-term investors, with some citing funds
trading in oil and Chinese funds.	
 Foreign investors sold 13.3 billion yen of Japanese stocks
last week after record net buying of 893.2 billion yen the week
before, government data showed on Thursday.	
 "March 31 means everything for institutional investors.
They're begging to push prices higher even by one yen," said
Masayoshi Okamoto, head of dealing at Jujiya Securities,
attributing gains in the market to year-end window dressing.	
 "From tomorrow on everyone is going to think about March
2012 and trading will begin anew with that date in mind. But for
now, even the smallest gains will seem huge for players who lost
so much in the post-quake sell-off."	
 By midday the benchmark Nikkei average was almost
flat, down 2.88 points at 9,705.91. The broader Topix 
was also little changed, at 865.94.	
 Investors bought back underweight shares of banks, which are
among the hardest-hit since Japan's March 11 disaster. Tokyo's
subindex of banking stocks has lost 11.3 percent
since the quake.	
 Thomson Reuters data shows banking shares trade at a
price-to-book ratio of 0.7, below 1.1 for the Nikkei index. 	
 Major banks, some of which are major lenders to TEPCO, have
been aggressively sold off on mounting worries over the
utility's debt of around $91 billion.	
 	
 OUT OF STEAM	
 "The Nikkei ran out of steam as active buying seen in the
futures market, possibly by public funds, slowed down," Takashi
Ohba, senior strategist at Okasan Securities. 	
 Market players said foreigners stepped aside when the market
slowly closed in on the Nikkei's 200-moving day average at
9,820. 	
 "The market is still cautious about the outlook due to
concerns about the fate of the nuclear plant. Uncertainty over
the power shortage and worries over falling consumption also
should weigh on shares," added Ohba. 	
 The dollar rose to around 83.19 yen on Wednesday, a
level last seen on March 11, when it initially fell after
Japan's earthquake. It retreated to around 82.81 yen on
Thursday.	
 Japanese shares have shed 7 percent since the March 11
earthquake, tsunami and nuclear safety crisis erupted, triggered
the biggest two-day rout in the market since 1987. In contrast,
the MSCI index of Asian shares outside Japan has
gained 5 percent. 	
 Shares in Nissan Motor climbed 1 percent, roughly
in line with other blue-chip exporters, after the automaker
denied a media report that CEO Carlos Ghosn said it and Renault
SA plan to form a single company [ID:nL3E7EV049]	
 "There are currently no plans to form a single holding
company for both Renault and Nissan," Nissan said in a
statement.	
 Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co surged 5.2 percent to
768 yen in active trade after the firm said it had signed a 10
billion yen licensing deal that gives Takeda Pharmaceutical Co
 exclusive marketing rights to its antipsychotic drug in
most of Europe. Dainippon said it will book this one-time
payment as sales and profit for the current fiscal year.
[ID:nL3E7EU31B]	
(Additional reporting by Chikafumi Hodo; Editing by Chris
Gallagher)	
 	
 	
	
 Reuters Terminal users can see other related news and rates by 	
double-clicking on: 	
  All Nikkei indices (0#.NIKKEI: Quote, Profile, Research) 	
  All shares listed on The benchmark Nikkei ended the
day up 1.1 percent or 101.12 points at 9,536.13, 	
Nikkei-225 (0#.N225: Quote, Profile, Research) 	
  N225 index                TOPIX index   	
  Nikkei Japan 1000        TOPIX sector data    	
  Nikkei 300 index          TOPIX futures data  
(0#JTI:: Quote, Profile, Research) 	
  Osaka N225 data       (0#JNI:: Quote, Profile, Research)    Chicago N225 data    
(0#NK:: Quote, Profile, Research) 	
  Top 30 by volume          Top 30 by value      	
  Total volume              Total value          	
  1st section sector RICs  All TSE weighted avg 	
  Top 30 gainers by pct     Top 30 losers by pct 	
  Top 30 net gainers        Top 30 net losers    	
	
  Active Japanese stocks 	
  Japan economic indicators 	
	
 ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS: 	
 Pan-Asia        Japan         S.Korea   	
 S.E. Asia              Hong Kong    Taiwan    	
 Australia/NZ           India        China     	
 OTHER MARKETS: 	
 Wall Street            Gold        Currency  	
 Eurostocks            Oil          JP bonds   	
 ADR Report           LME metals US bonds   	
 Stocks News US  Stocks News Europe    	
 DIARIES & DATA: 	
 IPO diary & data   Asia earnings diary 	
 U.S. earnings diary   European diary       	
 Japan diary          Wall Street Week Ahead   	
 Eurostocks Week Ahead  	
 TOP NEWS: 	
 For top Asian company news:                        	
 Top News Japan         U.S. company news     	
 Europe  company news  Forex news            	
 Global Economy news All Equity news             	
 Tech, Media, Telecoms Banking news          	
 Politics/General news   Asia Macro data      	
 A multimedia version of Reuters Top News is available at: 	
 http://topnews.session.rservices.com 	
 LIVE PRICES & DATA: 	
 World stocks          (0#.INDEX: Quote, Profile, Research)  Currencies   	
 Dow Jones/NASDAQ    Debt     (0#USBMK=: Quote, Profile, Research) 	
 FTSE 100                  LME price overview    	
 Yen/dollar               	

Nikkei hugs gains after rally, TEPCO jumps despite uncertainty