Nikkei steady, exporters rise on weak yen, financials retreat

Reuters

* Exporters rise as USD stays above 100 yen

* Non-life insurers, banks give up gains after rallies

* Nikkei likely to trade at 15,500 at year-end - UBS

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average was

flat on Wednesday morning as recent outperformers including

banks and non-life insurers pulled back, offseting gains in

exporters after the dollar traded above 100 yen.

The Nikkei was steady at 15,122.05 in mid-morning

trade after gaining as much as 0.5 percent earlier, nearing a

six-month high of 15,273.61 marked on Monday.

Analysts say investors will likely remain cautious given the

recent rapid gains in the market. The index is currently trading

3.8 percent above its 25-day moving average of 14,541.73.

The Topix shed 0.1 percent to 1,235.86.

Exporters were higher as the dollar fetched 100.11 yen

after gaining 0.1 percent overnight. Panasonic Corp

rose 1.5 percent, Toyota Motor Corp added 0.5

percent and Nikon Corp rose 1.4 percent.

Over the medium term, the Japanese market is expected to

extend its rally.

The Nikkei is up 45 percent this year spurred by the

government's massive fiscal and monetary stimulus.

"Money has been shifting to equities from bonds, and this

rally will likely continue throughout the year and even into

next year," said Toru Ibayashi, executive director at UBS,

adding that the Nikkei will likely trade around 15,500 at the

end of the year.

"The global economy is showing a recovery. Data in the U.S.

and Europe are improving, while China is bottoming out," he

said.

Traders say investors will also remain focused on when the

U.S. Federal Reserve will start tapering its stimulus, a major

driver of global risk assets in recent years.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank

remained committed to maintaining highly accommodative policies

for as long as they are needed.

Some of the recent outperformers took a breather on

Wednesday.

Banks and non-life insurers dropped as investors locked in

profits after they rallied recently on strong earnings and

bullish prospects.

MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc shed 1.9

percent, while NKSJ Holdings Inc dropped 2.3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group

shed 0.5 percent, Mizuho Financial Group

dropped 1.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group

fell 0.8 percent.

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