Nikkei seen boxed in range ahead of BOJ decision

TOKYO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to hold in a narrow range early on Tuesday ahead of a much-anticipated meeting by the Bank of Japan, which is widely expected to ease monetary policy. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,800 and 9,000, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 8,925 on Monday, up 0.1 percent from the Osaka close. ``The market is very cautious. The point is whether the BOJ will come up with surprises ... beyond the expectations,'' said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc. The benchmark Nikkei has been buoyed over the past month by a softer yen amid expectations that the BOJ will expand its asset purchase programme by at least 10 trillion yen ($125.3 billion). The index is up 5.6 percent this year. Hiroki said one view was that moves by the BOJ to continue to ease monetary policy amid stuttering global growth would support further upside in the Nikkei. But the other view was that it was time to take profits under the market axiom of 'buy the rumour, sell the fact', he said. On Monday, the Nikkei ended flat at 8,929.34, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.1 percent to 740.30. So far, this quarterly earnings season has been weak, with 63 percent of the 27 Nikkei companies that have reported undershooting market expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. That compared with 54 percent in the previous quarter.

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STOCKS TO WATCH --NOMURA HOLDINGS Nomura, Japan's largest investment bank, posted its fourth straight quarterly profit on Monday as an upswing in its fixed income operations helped it counter weak equity markets and the fallout from an insider trading probe. --RENESAS ELECTRONICS CORP Renesas, the world's fifth-largest chipmaker, posted a smaller-than-expected operating loss for the July-September quarter on Monday, down 44 percent from a year ago, but still its seventh consecutive quarterly loss. --KANSAI ELECTRIC POWER CO The loss-making utility said on Monday it was considering raising power prices for the first time in 30 years to help cover its fuel costs while most of its nuclear reactors remain idled for safety checks.