Nikkei to rise for 2nd day but yen seen weighing

TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – Japan’s Nikkei is likely to rise on Thursday after robust earnings helped lift U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) to their highest in five months and expectations that the Federal Reserve will further loosen monetary policy boosted commodity prices.

Nikkei futures traded in Chicago closed at 9,525, up 1.2 percent from the Osaka close. The Nikkei rose 0.2 percent on short-covering on Wednesday, but the strong yen put a brake on a further rise.

Market analysts expect the yen’s strength will continue to keep gains in check on Thursday.

“Japanese stocks will likely rise as the gap between them and U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) has increasingly become apparent, with U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) nearing their April highs. The Nikkei’s 25-day moving average is also pointing upward,” said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equity marketing at Nikko Cordial Securities.

“Although the strong yen remains a worrisome factor, commodity-related stocks may gain in particular after the strong performance in gold and oil prices.”

The benchmark Nikkei (.N225: ) is likely to move between 9,350 and 9,550, market players said. The index inched up the previous day to 9,403.51, but was still down about 17 percent from a high hit in April.

In early Asian trade, the dollar changed hands at 81.80 yen, not far from a 15-year low of 81.37 yen hit on Monday, though caution remained that Japanese authorities could intervene the closer the greenback gets to its record low of 79.75 yen.

U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) rose about 1 percent as stronger-than-expected earnings and lingering U.S. dollar weakness increased demand for equities. But Dow components JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: ) and Intel Corp (INTC.O: ) saw their shares slide after recent rallies, though their strong results helped lift sentiment. (.N: )

In commodity markets, copper hit 27-month highs and gold returned to record peaks as the dollar weakened again on expectations toward a new round of monetary easing by the Fed. Oil prices also rose, aided by the falling dollar and higher crude imports by China. (COM/WRAP: )

On charts, the Nikkei’s next upward targets stand near its recent peaks around 9,700 marked this month and 9,800 hit in July.

The Nikkei faces strong support at the 38.2 percent retracement of its September-October rally and its 55-day moving average, both of which come in around 9,365.

STOCKS TO WATCH

— Mitsui & Co (8031.T: )

Mitsui & Co said on Wednesday it would liquidate its U.S. auto finance subsidiary, AFC HoldCo LLC, citing a downturn in the sector.

The Japanese trading house bought the U.S. firm in 2007 on expectations the country’s auto market would expand, but it shrank in the wake of the financial crisis.

— Secom Co (9735.T: )

Security services firm Secom will enter the medical tourism business, with plans to start bringing in wealthy customers from emerging countries to Japan for treatment in 2013, the Nikkei business daily reported.

– Sumitomo Metal Mining (5713.T: ), resource-linked shares

Copper hit 27-month highs and gold returned to record peaks on Wednesday, propelling a widely watched commodity index to a two-year high as the dollar weakened again on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon start a new round of monetary easing.

Oil prices also rose, aided by the falling dollar and higher crude imports by China.

(Reporting by Aiko Hayashi; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Nikkei to rise for 2nd day but yen seen weighing