Nikkei pares gains as BOJ stands pat, set to fall for 4th straight month
* Nikkei up slightly as BOJ refrains from easing * Many investors still expect BOJ to ease policy later * Kyocera, Mitsubishi Elec lead gains after upbeat guidance By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, April 30 (Reuters) - Japanese shares pared much of their earlier gains in choppy trade on Wednesday after the Bank of Japan affirmed its existing policies - disappointing some speculators who had bet on the outside chance of a surprise easing. The market focus is now shifting to the BOJ's economic outlook report and Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's briefing, both planned after market close, followed by the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy statement later in the day. The Nikkei stood almost flat at 14,303.61, having give up most of the 0.9 percent gain it made earlier on the back of some positive earnings guidance. "I think that there were people who were hoping for an easing. For now, investors will be focusing on what Kuroda will say," said Takuya Takahashi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities. "But if you think Kuroda will keep to his assessment that the economy is on track to hit the BOJ's inflation target, then basically there will be few market-supportive comments," he added. The Nikkei looks set to post its fourth straight month of losses in April, having fallen 3.5 percent so far, which would be longest such streak since 2008. The Nikkei has dropped more than 12 percent since the start of 2014, making it the worst performer among major markets. That partly reflects profit-taking after an outsized gain of 57 percent last year, but the weakness stems also from receding expectations of additional BOJ easing. Some speculators had bet that Kuroda could unveil stimulus as early as this month to counter the effect of sales tax hike that kicked in on April 1, with many investors still thinking easing is likely around July. But Kuroda's bullish comments on the Japanese economy has some investors questioning whether there will be an easing at all. On top of monetary policy outlook in Japan and the United States, investors are looking to corporate earnings, as many Japanese firms will be announcing their guidance for the year to March until mid-May. Kyocera Corp gained 3.9 percent after the ceramics manufacturer announced an upbeat outlook for the year to March 2015, citing firm demand for its smartphone and tablet parts. Mitsubishi Electric rose 3.1 percent after giving optimistic guidance, in which it said it expected record revenue and net profit in 2014/15. Carmakers led the gains after the yen hit three-week low versus the dollar, with Toyota Motor Co rising 1.1 percent and Honda motor 2.1 percent. "I think the market will be supported around current levels. Even when some companies miss market expectations, their share prices do not necessarily fall because the valuation has become reasonable," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Securities. (Editing by Eric Meijer)
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