Nikkei falls after 2-day rally, BOJ awaited; Toyota underperforms

* Index-heavy Fast Retailing and SoftBank together take off hefty points from Nikkei * Toyota falls on report citing lower forecast in 2015 * BOJ expected to stand pat on policy * News that Islamic State threatens Japanese captives keeps market on edge By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average fell on Wednesday as investors pocketed gains from the sharp rises in the past two sessions, but expectations that the European Central Bank will unveil stimulus measures this week limited losses.

The market was also awaiting a policy decision by the Bank Of Japan likely around midday. The central bank is expected to continue its massive asset buying programme while possibly expanding two expiring loan schemes to support bank lending.

The Nikkei fell 0.6 percent to 17,263.18 points by mid-morning, after gaining 2.1 percent on Tuesday. In the past two sessions, it had gained 2.4 percent.

Index-heavy Fast Retailing Co and SoftBank Corp fell 0.7 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, and the companies together took off a hefty 23 points off from the Nikkei, or roughly a quarter of its losses.

“Yesterday’s rally was more so of a surprise than today’s correction overall. Markets are currently in limbo right now as there aren’t much domestic catalysts,” said a senior trader at a foreign brokerage.

He said that the market may remain in a range between the current level and an intraday high of 16,533 marked on Oct. 31, when the BOJ unexpectedly ramped up its buying spree.

“Until 18,000, that’s the range you’re just going to be playing with for the time being,” he said.

Meanwhile, news that the militant group Islamic State released an online video on Tuesday purporting to show two Japanese captives also kept the market on edge.

Toyota Motor Corp fell 1.7 percent after the Nikkei business daily said the automaker expects to sell fewer cars and trucks in 2015 and will likely lose it position as the world’s top-selling automaker to Volkswagen for the first time.

Toyota expects to sell roughly 10.15 million vehicles worldwide this year, a decrease of about 100,000 from last year, with the Nikkei citing company forecasts due out Wednesday.

Other exporters were steady while the dollar traded at 118.44 yen, moving away from a one-month trough of 115.85 set recently.

Canon Inc added 1.2 percent, Honda Motor Co gained 0.2 percent and Tokyo Electron Ltd edged up 0.1 percent.

The broader Topix slipped 0.5 percent to 1,390.63 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.5 percent to 12,642.83.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

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