Nikkei bounces as MSCI review supports sentiment, BOJ eyed
* Shares bought back after MSCI keeps rival South Korea, Taiwan shares in EM * Market cautious after Nikkei trades above 15,000 - analyst * Large cap shares lead gains * Seven & i rises after media reports of strong earnings in March-May By Ayai Tomisawa and Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, June 11 (Reuters) - Japanese shares bounced off a one-week low on Wednesday, supported by news that Japan will retain its status as the only developed market in the region in MSCI stock indexes, checking any potential knee-jerk rotation out of Tokyo equities. The Nikkei gained 0.3 percent to 15,037.40 having recovered almost a half of its 0.9 percent loss the previous day, though it still kept some distance from a three-month high of 15,206.57 hit on Monday. Tokyo shares were helped after equity index provider MSCI said South Korea and Taiwan indexes will be removed from its review list for reclassification to developed markets, keeping them in the emerging markets classification. Traders said Japanese shares were bought back by the players who had bet that Tokyo equities would take the brunt of rebalancing if Korean and Taiwanese shares were reclassified to developed markets. Still, the gains were limited as investors remained cautious after a strong rally since late May, which was helped by improving domestic earnings and overseas economic conditions. "People are cautious about chasing the market higher as Japanese stocks rose sharply in a short period of time," said Isao Kubo, equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management, adding that the index may hover near the psychologically important 15,000 mark in the near term. Large-cap shares led gains, with the Topix Core 30 rising 0.5 percent. Japan Tobacco gained 1.5 percent and NTT rose 2.0 percent. Bank shares maintained their upbeat tone of the past few weeks, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group hitting a three-month high. It last traded up 0.8 percent. Retail chain operator Seven & I Holding rose 1.0 percent, spurred by a local media report that its operating profits in the quarter to May rose about five percent from the previous year, raising hopes of solid sales after the national sales tax hike in April. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggesting the Japanese economy would be able to weather the national sales tax -- to 8 percent from 5 percent -- has also supported sentiment in the past month. "Focus falls on a positive inflection in Japan's earnings revision momentum. We expect this to come from August/September, as companies and analysts prepare for the mid-fiscal year reporting season," Jesper J Koll, director of Japan equity research at JPMorgan. Still, with many investors eying more solid proof, overall trade volume was slow, as has been the case in recent weeks. Traders said investors were looking ahead to the outcome of the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting that ends on Friday. The central bank is expected to keep monetary policy steady and may slightly revise up its assessment on overseas growth. On Wednesday, exporters were higher as the dollar held steady at 102.38 yen, not far from a one-month high of 102.80 touched last week. Toyota Motor Corp gained 0.7 percent, Advanst Corp added 2.9 percent and Panasonic Corp advanced 0.4 percent. The broader Topix added 0.5 percent to 1,235.15, while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.5 percent to 11,246.22. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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