Japan stocks may be rangebound, machinery data key

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TOKYO, Oct 11 (Reuters) Japanese stocks are likely to take their cue on Thursday from August machinery orders data due out before the open, though stocks may move in a narrow range after a mixed session on Wall Street.

Traders will keep a close eye on the market debut of Sony Financial Holdings Inc, which oversees the Sony Corp group's online banking and insurance business.

Sony Financial's IPO is the largest in Japan since Aozora Bank's 380 billion yen listing last November.

Fast Retailing Co Ltd and Seven&I Holdings Co Ltd will also be in focus as the two retailers announce earnings results after the close.

''Today's market is up to machinery orders. It is likely to test the upside if the numbers beat the forecast,'' said Masayoshi Yano, senior manager of investment information at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

''But if they come in line with expectations, the market is likely to take a pause after rising in recent sessions.'' Core machinery orders, a highly volatile figure regarded as a leading gauge of capital spending, jumped 17 percent in July.

Economists are forecasting a 6 percent drop for August.

Yano said resource-related shares such as oil companies are likely to be bought given a rise in oil prices, and shippers may also grab attention due to soaring freight rates.

Later in the day, Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui will hold a new conference after a two-day monetary policy board meeting at which the central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged.

Market participants will be keen to see if Fukui offers any hints on when the BOJ may next raise rates.

Market participants said the Nikkei will likely trade between 17,050 and 17,250 on Thursday. The benchmark finished the previous session up 0.1 percent at 17,177.89.

Nikkei futures traded in Chicago finished at 17,280 on Wednesday, 50 points above the Osaka close, pointing to a higher opening.

In New York on Wednesday, the dollar rose 0.1 percent against the yen to 117.25 and was trading around 117.12 yen in early Asian hours.

On Wall Street, the Dow and S&P 500 fell after Boeing Co said it expected a delay in deliveries of its Dreamliner jet and early corporate results prompted concern about the outlook for profits.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.6 percent, and the Standard&Poor's 500 Index ended down 0.2 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.3 percent.

STOCKS TO WATCH -- Eisai Co The drugmaker's first-half operating profit likely climbed 9 percent to a record of about 54 billion yen on higher sales of its Alzheimer's drug Aricept at home and abroad, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday.

-- Nintendo Co Ltd The company said on Wednesday it would start selling its ''Wii Fit'' home fitness game in Japan in time for the critical year-end shopping season.

-- Lawson Inc The convenience store chain said on Wednesday it would buy back up to 5.07 percent or 21 billion yen of its own shares.

-- Aeon Co Ltd Japan's second-largest retail group said on Wednesday it was teaming up with SIIC Shanghai (Holdings) Co Ltd, a property investment arm of the Shanghai city government, to develop shopping centres in China.

-- INPEX Holdings Inc The company said on Wednesday it has discovered natural gas from two test wells in the offshore Mahakam block in Indonesia.

Reuters DKS VP0510

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