Retailers boost Nikkei, options settlement offsets latest quake

 * April Nikkei options seen settling at 9,612.51
 * Fast Retailing surges after raising outlook, boosts Nikkei
 * TSE delays extension of trading hours due to power cuts
 * Volumes drop as investors move to sidelines ahead of U.S.,
Japan earnings
 By Chikafumi Hodo and Antoni Slodkowski	
 TOKYO, April 8 (Reuters) - A strong performance from major
retailers pushed up Tokyo stocks by nearly 1 percent on Friday
after April options prices were seen settling higher than
expected, offsetting the impact of a major earthquake which
rocked northeast Japan the night before.	
 A decisive break above 9,612.51 -- the level where options
settled -- and a 10 percent jump by Tokyo Electric Co ,
after no further damage was reported at its crippled nuclear
plant after last night's aftershock, spurred buying, with
players adjusted their positions ahead of the start of the
earnings season in the U.S. and Japan.	
 But low volumes suggested the move was temporary and that
investors still see a lot of downside in the coming months.	
 The market was bolstered by Fast Retailing , with
almost a 5 percent weighting in the market, which jumped 6.7
percent to 11,880 yen in heavy trade after the operator of the
Uniqlo casual-clothing chain raised its annual
outlook.[ID:nL3E7F801W]	
 "People are buying shares for now, but it's not going to
last long," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at
Ichiyoshi Investment Management.	
 "Fundamentals remain unclear and extreme uncertainty
surrounding earnings, with many firms set not to provide annual
forecasts will keep a lid on the market's gains."	
 By the midday break, the benchmark Nikkei index was
0.9 percent higher at 9,678.68, while the broader Topix index 	
 was up 0.7 percent at 846.59	
 Volume hovered at 1.3 billion shares on the Tokyo bourse's
main board despite the options settlement which would normally
push it higher, suggesting it would come only slightly above
Thursday's volume which was the lowest since the March 11 quake.	
 Tokyo shares have regained more than half of the losses
posted since the disasters, but power shortages, lost production
and lack of progress in bringing the stricken nuclear plant
under full control could send the Nikkei to 9,200-9,300 levels
around mid-May, some analysts said.	
 In the long run, Barclays Capital has said it expects
companies listed on the TSE's main board to post on average a
fall of 12 percent in net profit for this financial year
compared with its pre-quake forecast of a rise of 14 percent.	
 The closely watched settlement price, known in Japan as the
special quotation or "SQ", is calculated from the opening prices
of the 225 shares on the Nikkei average on the second
Friday of the month.       	
 "Once the SQ price was confirmed, we saw the market go back
up to 9,600. What's going to be really interesting is to see if
9,612 will become resistance, or if the market can clear this
level today and then it will become support," said Sunil
Sadhwani, CEO of Hamabay Capital LLC.	
 Sadhwani added he was looking at the 9,300-9,200 level as an
"absolute bottom" and said that if the benchmark index was to
fall below that line, another free-fall would be triggered.	
 	
 RETAILERS GAIN	
 Apart from Fast Retailing, which replaced Tokyo Electric as
the most actively traded share by turnover on the TSE's main
board for the first time since the quake, Japan's biggest
retailer, Seven & I Holdings Co also jumped 2.6
percent.	
 It forecast a 1.9 percent gain in operating profit to 248
billion yen ($2.9 billion) for the financial year that began in
March. During the final quarter of its last business year,
operating profit jumped 21 percent to 67.6 billion yen.
[ID:nL3E7F70L1]	
 GS Yuasa Corp jumped 5.1 percent to 556 yen after
the Nikkei business daily said it plans to supply lithium ion
batteries for electric vehicles to French automaker PSA Peugeot
Citroen SA. [ID:nL3E7F801W]	
 Nippon Steel , the world's No.4 steelmaker, rose 1.2
percent to 256 yen after news that it is in talks with Tatt Giap
 to boost its stake in their Malaysian joint
venture.[ID:nTOE736006]	
 The steel company and other resource-related shares also
benefited from higher commodity prices, with oil hitting a 2-1/2
year high and copper reaching its highest in two weeks. The
19-commodity Reuters-Jefferies CRB index climbed 0.3
percent, finishing higher for a sixth straight session.	
 Underscoring worries related to summer power cuts, the Tokyo
Stock Exchange said it will delay a plan to extend trading hours
so as to reduce power consumption, as Japan seeks to save
electricity in Tokyo and northern prefectures in anticipation of
peak summer demand.      	
	
 (Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Joseph Radford)	
 	
 

Retailers boost Nikkei, options settlement offsets latest quake