Nikkei slips from 3-week high; BOJ stimulus bets limit losses
* Caution rules ahead of U.S. payroll data * Nikkei capped below major resistance from Ichimoku cloud top * SoftBank tracks U.S. tech shares lower By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) - The Nikkei average slipped from a three-week high on Friday on caution before the release of U.S. jobs data, but speculation that the Bank of Japan may adopt more stimulus next week underpinned shares of real estate and brokerage firms. Nikkei heavyweight SoftBank Corp fell sharply as U.S. tech shares have come under pressure ahead of a planned IPO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings IPO-ALIB.N, in which the Japanese firm holds a large stake. The Nikkei average was down 0.2 percent at 15,048.03 as of 0140 GMT, after failing the previous day to break above resistance at 15,158, the top of the daily Ichimoku cloud. "It is natural to have a correction ahead of the U.S. payroll data today and the BOJ's policy meeting," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities. "Given that the market is already expecting a strong payroll number, there's risk the world's share prices could succumb to profit-taking after the data," he added. Many investors are expecting the U.S. jobs report to provide evidence that recent weather-related weakness in the economy has passed. Economists forecast job gains of 200,000 jobs in March, according to a Reuters poll. Information and communication shares were by far the worst performer among the Tokyo Stock Exchange's 33 industry subindexes. Softbank fell 2.4 percent after U.S momentum shares like Facebook and Netflix tumbled. SoftBank shares have become very sensitive to moves in U.S. tech stocks ahead of Alibaba's IPO, which is expected become the one of the largest offerings in history. Alibaba said last month that it is planning its initial public offering in the United States. On the hand, real estate was the top-performing sector, up 1.8 percent, as speculators piled bets that the BOJ may unleash further easing after its policy meeting ends on Tuesday. Tokyu Fudosan rose 3 percent and Mitsubishi Estate gained 2.2 percent. Brokerages and other financial companies also gained. The rise in these potential beneficiaries of monetary easing, however, raised alarm bells among some market participants. "Japanese market players believe 100 percent that there will be no easing from the BOJ this time and the buying in these shares are driven by event-driven hedge funds making bets ahead of the BOJ meeting. I would say there is risk of a sharp reversal after the BOJ's meeting," said Norihiro Fujito, senior strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. Indeed, last month the Nikkei tumbled a total of almost 1,000 points after the BOJ shied away from taking additional easing steps. The broader Topix index dipped 0.1 percent to 1,215.48 while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 slipped 0.1 percent to 11,019.72. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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