Nikkei set to trade in range ahead of Friday's U.S. jobs data

TOKYO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to tread water on Thursday after month-end buying in the previous session took the index to close up for the month and ahead of the key U.S. jobs data on Friday. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,850 and 9,000, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 8,920 on Wednesday, unchanged the Osaka close. ``New York shares were softer towards the closing, which doesn't leave a good impression. I suspect month-end buying helped support the Nikkei until yesterday,'' said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities. ``Nonetheless, on the whole, the market may take a wait-and-see stance as the U.S. job data is just around the corner.'' The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 closed little changed on Wednesday while the Nasdaq Composite edged lower in a session with slightly less than average volume after a two-day close due to a massive storm. ``The 25-day moving average (at around 8,837) is an important support but the Nikkei seems to be capped by the 200-day moving average (at around 9,066) as well. The next trend may emerge when one of these levels are broken,'' Miura said. On Wednesday, the Nikkei rose 1 percent to 8,928.29 to end the month of October 0.7 percent higher, its third straight monthly gain. The broader Topix index climbed 1.2 percent to 742.33. Company earnings remain weak this quarterly reporting season, with 56 percent of the 64 Nikkei companies that have reported undershooting market expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. That compared with 54 percent in the previous quarter. Still, the benchmark Nikkei is up 5.6 percent this year but lags behind a 12.3 percent rise in the S&P 500 and a 10.5 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index.

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STOCKS TO WATCH --PANASONIC CORP Panasonic said it will lose almost $10 billion this business year as it cleans out risky holdings, writing down billions of dollars of goodwill and assets in its mobile and energy units while its new boss readies for a fresh bout of restructuring.

--TOSHIBA CORP Toshiba cut its full-year group operating profit forecast by 13.3 percent to 260 billion yen ($3.27 billion) on Wednesday from its previous outlook of 300 billion yen, saying the uncertain global economy weighed on its prospects.

--SOFTBANK CORP Softbank said it plans 700 billion yen of capital expenditure in the year to next March 31. It also said it is mulling various options with regard to its future stake in eAccess Ltd, which it acquired in a $1.84 billion deal in October. --AEON CO LTD Carrefour said on Wednesday that it made final the sale of its operations in Malaysia for an enterprise value -- including equity and debt -- of 250 million euros ($324 million) to Aeon, Japan's No. 1 supermarket operator.