Nikkei edges up in choppy trade before U.S. employment data

* Nikkei up 0.4 pct so far this week * Market may be directionless until Tues – analyst * DeNA jumps 6.8 pct after brokerage upgrade By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, April 3 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average edged up on Friday morning in choppy trade as investors shied away from large positions before key U.S. jobs data due later in the day.

The Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3 percent to 19,375.12 in mid-morning trade after opening a tad lower. For the week, the Nikkei was up 0.4 percent.

The U.S. March jobs report will be released at a time American stock markets are closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Analysts said that Tokyo volume may stay subdued as investors stay on the sidelines ahead of U.S. employment data that may give clues to when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

“The Japanese market will likely stay directionless until investors see how U.S. markets react to the data,” said Fujio Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Securities. “In the longer term, investors will likely revisit positive trends such as companies’ earnings and their better shareholder returns.” Ando expects the Nikkei to rise after companies report their full-year earnings in May as well as June, when shareholder returns and corporate governance will be taken up at shareholder meetings.

On Friday, exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp flat, Honda Motor Co rising 1.0 percent and Sony Corp rising 2.9 percent, extending its gains from Thursday when it said it had halved its stake in Olympus Corp to raise funds for restructuring.

DeNA Co jumped 6.8 percent to 2,439 yen, the highest since December 2013, after Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities upgraded it to “overweight” from “neutral”, citing expectations for monetizing Nintendo Co’s intellectual property as the two companies develop game apps for phones and tablets.

Seven & i Holdings dropped 1.5 percent after its full-year operating profit forecast was short of market expectations. It expects operating profit to rise 8.6 percent to 373 billion yen for the year ended February, lower than a mean average of 379.1 billion yen forecast by Thomson Reuters StarMine.

The broader Topix rose 0.2 percent to 1,557.76. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also advanced 0.2 percent, to 14,156.79.

(Editing by Richard Borsuk)

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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