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Tokyo stocks seen flat as BOJ, U.S. data eyed

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Mar 6 (Reuters) Tokyo stocks are expected to move little on Monday, with investors reluctant to make aggressive moves ahead of a Bank of Japan meeting later this week that could result in an end to the central bank's super-easy monetary policy.

Investors were also likely to be cautious ahead of key U.S.

jobs data due at the end of the week, a figure that could give a clue as to how much further U.S. interest rates may rise, said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

''Here, investors are looking ahead to the BOJ meeting and at the end of the week we'll be awaiting U.S. jobs data. With these factors ahead, I don't think stocks will be able to move much at all today,'' Nakai said.

A Reuters poll showed that market expectations of a BOJ policy shift following the March 8-9 meeting rose sharply after data on Friday showed that consumer prices increased more than expected in January.

Traders expect the Nikkei to move between 15,500 and 15,800 on Monday.

On Friday it booked its lowest close since Feb. 20, falling 1.55 percent to 15,633.34 after the consumer price data raised concerns about higher interest rates, sending down shares in property firms.

In Chicago, Nikkei futures expiring in March closed at 15,610 a loss of 80 points from the Osaka finish.

Japanese tech stocks could be in focus after Intel Corp.'s warning about a quarterly revenue shortfall.

Meanwhile, Toshiba Corp., Japan's second-largest electronics conglomerate plans to invest about 500 billion yen (.3 billion) to build a new flash memory plant to meet growing demand for portable music players and other electronic devices, the Nihon Keizai business daily said on Monday.

The Tokyo stock exchange has shortened overall afternoon trading by 30 minutes to avoid any computer system trouble. Trade will begin at 1 p.m. (0400 GMT) instead of the usual 12:30 p.m.

and will finish at 3 p.m.

STOCKS TO WATCH -- Softbank Corp.

Britain's Vodafone Group Plc said on Friday it was in talks to sell its struggling Japanese mobile phone business to the Internet communications conglomerate.

-- Suzuki Motor Corp.

U.S. auto maker General Motors Corp is planning to sell its 20 percent stake in the Japanese compact car maker, the Nihon Keizai business daily reported on Sunday.

-- NTT DoCoMo Inc.

Japan's largest mobile phone operator will tie up with Mizuho Bank, a unit of Mizuho Financial Group Inc., and Credit Saison Co. Ltd. to start a service allowing mobile phones to be used as credit cards, the Nihon Keizai said on Saturday.

REUTERS VJ RAI0522

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