Nikkei seen inching lower, energy stocks to weigh

 TOKYO, April 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei stock average is
expected to inch lower for a second straight session on Tuesday
after oil dropped nearly 3 percent and spurred a selloff in
energy shares on Wall Street.	
 Kicking off the cautiously awaited earnings season in the
United States, Alcoa Inc reported a first-quarter profit
that beat estimates, but revenue of the aluminium maker missed
forecasts and the stock fell 3.6 percent in post-market trade.	
 With market players awaiting the first post-quake earnings
in Japan, trading volumes are poised to remain low and the
benchmark will likely stay trapped on Tuesday between 9,612.51
-- where April Nikkei options settled last week -- and its
200-day moving average at 9,816.	
 "With so many uncertainties surrounding big players,
investors will likely move to small-cap stocks," said Takashi
Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities.	
 "After gold, oil and other commodities fell, energy shares
will come under pressure, especially after recent gains. But
overall, with the situation in the country unchanged the Nikkei
will probably move in a narrow range," Hiroki said.	
 Analysts said that while falling commodities prices will
pressure energy stocks, they will also help to ease worries over
the impact of rising raw material costs on input costs and
margins, providing some support to the market.	
 Nikkei futures in Chicago (2NKc1: Quote, Profile, Research) pointed to a weaker start
in Tokyo. They were at 9,650, down from the Osaka close (JNIc1: Quote, Profile, Research)
of 9,720.	
  The benchmark index closed down 0.5 percent or
48.38 points at 9,719.70 on Monday, with volumes falling to the
lowest level since the quake as investors await earnings
reports.	
 The Nikkei has already recouped about two-thirds of the 	
ground lost since the March 11 earthquake, but analysts said
from now on potential gains before earnings will likely be hard
won.	
 Tokyo Electric Power will remain in focus,
investors said. Trade in the energy giant accounted for some 10
percent of total volume on the Tokyo bourse's main board on
Monday.	
 Tepco could face 2 trillion yen ($23.6 bln) in special
losses in the current business year to March 2012 to compensate
communities near its crippled nuclear plant, JP Morgan said in a
research report obtained by Reuters on Monday. [ID:nL3E7FB1RB]
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