January 20, 2017 / 3:06 AM / 2 years ago

Nikkei stays in a narrow range, on track for weekly losses

* Investors await Trump’s inauguration on Friday for cues

* Yen moves off this week’s highs, underpinning Japanese equities

TOKYO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average wobbled in a small range on Friday, on track for a weekly loss, as investors braced for a change of power in the United States with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump will be sworn in later on Friday, and markets will be closely listening to his first statements as president. Investors will weigh his promises of growth-lifting stimulus against the potential impact of planned protectionist policies.

The Nikkei erased early slight losses and was up 0.1 percent at 19,091.84 at midday, but was down more than 1 percent for the week.

The broader Topix also edged up 0.1 percent, to 1,530.17, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.2 percent to 13,717.20.

With Trump taking office, “some investors are waiting to see what the market impact will be, and if he will fulfil some of the expectations,” said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.

“The dollar came off this week’s lows and was even higher in U.S. trade, so this is providing some support for Japanese stocks today,” she said.

The dollar was down 0.2 percent at 114.62 yen, but was well above this week’s low of 112.57 yen. It touched a one-week high of 115.63 yen overnight.

“It’s that correlation between Nikkei and the yen that has dragged this market around for the last few trading sessions,” said Gavin Parry, managing director of Parry International Trading in Hong Kong.

In addition to currency moves, investors will continue to focus on factors such as earnings and share buybacks, he said, but first investors need to hear the course Trump sets in his inauguration speech and the steps he takes after assuming the helm.

“All other trading themes have been put on the back-burner until we know what’s going on,” Parry said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s oil sector rose 1.6 percent, as crude oil prices climbed for a second day.

Shares of beverage maker Kirin Holdings Co rose as much as 3 percent to one-week highs, after the Nikkei reported that Heineken will buy Kirin’s loss-making Brazilian beer operations for about 100 billion yen ($872.07 million).

Kirin said in a statement that the report was “not based on any comments made by Kirin”, and that it is “also considering other alternatives including a strategic partnership”.

Shares of Toshiba Corp dropped 6 percent but then changed course and were up 2.9 percent at midday in volatile trade. Toshiba’s shares have fallen by nearly half since the group first announced in December the prospect of a writedown on its U.S. nuclear power plant construction operations.

Recycling company Takeei Corp saw its shares rise as much as 6.3 percent to their highest since June 2016, after it said it will buy back up to 500,000 shares of its common stock, representing a 2.09 percent stake.

$1 = 114.6700 yen Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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