Short-covering in post-quake losers lifts Nikkei

 * Yen weakness fails to give exporters much of a lift
 * Near-term outlook bearish, investor jittery about lost
output
 * Toshiba down 2.1 pct as Macquarie cuts price target
 * Volume lightest since the quake as uncertainties weigh
 By Chikafumi Hodo and Antoni Slodkowski	
 TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) - Short-covering in energy and
domestic-demand stocks gave the Nikkei a gentle nudge higher
after two days of declines on Thursday, but trade thinned out
with investors jittery ahead of earnings announcements.	
 Market players said the trend for the next few months is
bearish as some firms enter the first earnings season since last
month's quake unwilling to give forecasts for this financial
year amid power shortages, lost production and little progress
by Tokyo Electric in bringing its crippled nuclear plant under
control.[ID:nL3E7F7015]	
 Trading volume fell to its lowest levels since the quake,
with day's total number of shares changing hands on the bourse's
main board set to come in below 2.0 billion, well below 
post-quake levels.	
 "I'm not surprised utilities got sold-off so much as solving
electricity problems will weigh heavily on their finances," said
Fujito Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Asset
Management.  	
 "But their assets also carry a lot of value, so they're
being bought back for now," said Ando.	
 By midafternoon the benchmark Nikkei average inched
up 15.37 points or 0.16 percent to 9,599.97. 	
 The broader Topix index rose 0.3 percent, or 2.46
points, to 842.09.	
 Many Japanese manufacturers have suffered substantial losses
of production after the March 11 quake and tsunami disrupted
supply chains. Worries about that impact on earnings have
outweighed a recent slide in the Japanese currency to near an
11-month low of 122.55 yen to the euro and a half-year
low of 85.54 yen against the dollar .	
 	
 CORRECTIVE BUYING	
 Chubu Electric Power Co , Kansai Electric Power Co
 and the owner of the crippled nuclear power plant Tokyo
Electric Power Co were the biggest gainers on the
Nikkei and the most actively traded shares.	
 Chubu and Kansai both had lost around 15 percent since the
quake, while Tokyo Electric plummeted 84 percent to hit the
record low of 292 yen on Wednesday on worries about a huge
compensation claims related to the disaster at its nuclear
plant.	
 "It was about time to see some corrective buying, with
investors who have gone short this week covering their positions
ahead of tomorrow's SQ," said Takashi Ohba, a senior strategist
at Okasan Securities, referring to Friday's settlement of 
options, known in Japan as the special quotation.	
Foreign investors were net buyers of Japanese stocks last
week, and local market participants were keen to see if they
would continue to buy them in the longer run.	
 "I think foreigners will continue to be eager to buy
Japanese shares on dips, but I doubt that they'll be aggressive
about buying them on rallies at a time when there are many
uncertainties in the market," Ohba said.	
 Overseas investors shifted back to net buying of Japanese
equities to the tune of 144.7 billion yen ($1.69 billion) in the
week to April 2, after having sold a net 13.2 billion yen the
prior week, according to data by the Ministry of Finance.	
 Between March 13 and 19, the week right after the quake and
tsunami, foreigners logged record net buying of Japanese
equities of more than 890 billion yen. 	
 	
 TOSHIBA DOWN	
 Shares in electronics conglomerate Toshiba Corp , 
slipped 2.1 percent to 382 yen after Macquarie Securities cut
the firm's target share price to 500 yen from 575 yen after the
shares took a hit as the nuclear crisis in Fukushima unfolded,
but kept its "outperform" rating.	
 "We believe that Toshiba's shares have been hit more by an
adverse turn in sentiment surrounding the nuclear-related
business due to the Fukushima incident, than by any fundamental
deterioration in its business," the brokerage's Damian Thong
said in a note to clients.	
 Toshiba is among the 10 biggest post-quake losers out of the
225 Nikkei components, shedding some 24 percent since March 10
-- the day before the quake -- and underperforming the benchmark
index, which after three weeks since the disaster still hovers
some 8 percent below its early March levels.	
 Engineers pumped nitrogen gas into a crippled nuclear
reactor at the plant on Thursday, trying to prevent an explosive
buildup of hydrogen gas, giving some support to TEPCO's stocks.
[ID:nL3E7F62A5]	
 Elsewhere, Elpida Memory jumped 3.2 percent to
1,097 yen after the company said it had developed a 4-gigabit
DRAM chip for smart phones, joining bigger rival Samsung
Electronics as the only producers of the large
capacity power-saving memory chip for smart phones.
[ID:nL3E7F63HD]  	
	
 

Short-covering in post-quake losers lifts Nikkei