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Nikkei set to rise, test 9,000 ahead of U.S. jobs data

TOKYO, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to open higher and test the key 9,000-mark on Friday as upbeat U.S. consumer confidence and private-sector jobs data lifted sentiment ahead of the key nonfarm payroll figures later in the day. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 8,950 and 9,100, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 9,055 on Thursday, up 1.2 percent from the Osaka close of 8,950. ``I expect a firm open, but then rangebound trading today after that,'' said Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. ``Yen weakness is a supportive factor for stocks, but ahead of the U.S. payrolls report, there probably won't be big moves.'' Data from payroll processor ADP showed U.S. companies added 158,000 jobs in October -- the fastest pace in eight months, while U.S. consumer confidence jumped last month to its highest in more than four years. On Thursday, the Nikkei added 0.2 percent to 8,946.87, while the broader Topix index put on 0.1 percent to 743.32. Company earnings have been weak this quarterly results, with 59 percent of the 90 Nikkei companies that have reported quarterly earnings undershooting market expectations, data from Thomson Reuters StarMine showed. That compared with 54 percent in the previous quarter. The benchmark Nikkei is up 5.8 percent this year, trailing a 13.5 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 and a 11.9 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index. Still, Japanese equities are more expensive than their European peers, with a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.6 versus STOXX Europe 600's 10.9, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. The S&P 500 carries a 12-month forward P/E of 12.6.

> Wall St jumps on strong consumer and jobs data

> Yen under pressure, eyes on U.S. jobs data

> Treasuries ease as global growth prospects rise

> Gold retreats below $1,720/oz, U.S. jobs data eyed

> Brent slips, U.S. crude higher as stockpiles drop

STOCKS TO WATCH --SHARP CORP The struggling TV maker warned it might not be able to survive on its own as it almost doubled its full-year net loss forecast to $5.6 billion, and said it was considering alliances with other companies. --SONY CORP Sony booked a small operating profit in the second quarter after a loss a year ago, helped by the sale of a chemicals business that offset weak demand for its TVs and other devices, and it kept its full-year profit guidance. --TOYOTA MOTOR CORP Toyota's sales in China fell 44 percent in October from a year earlier as the Japanese automaker remains pressured under the impact of a territorial dispute between the Asian neighbours. However, its sales in the United States rose 15.8 percent last month from a year ago period. --NIKON CORP Nikon said on Thursday it is slashing its forecast for stepper sales in the year to next March by 39 percent to 28 steppers, down from an August forecast to sell 46 of the multi-million dollar lithography machines.