TOKYO, Dec 3 Japan's Nikkei average is expected to open higher on Monday, extending gains from a seven-month closing high hit in the previous session, as exporters are buoyed by a weaker yen and improved Chinese manufacturing data. China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to a seven-month high of 50.6 in November from 50.2 in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Saturday. The Nikkei was likely to trade between 9,450 and 9,550, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 9,495 on Friday, up 0.5 percent from the Osaka close of 9,450. The yen has fallen on speculation that the Bank of Japan will be pushed to adopt aggressive policy action under a likely new government after a Dec. 16 election. The currency was traded at 82.42 yen to the dollar on Monday after falling as low as 82.75 yen on Friday, near its 7-1/2-month low of 82.84 touched on Nov. 22. "Japanese valuations are still favourable, but this week's main focus will be the American economy and developments in the ongoing (fiscal) talks there," said Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities. Japanese equities carry a 12-month forward price-to-book ratio of 0.9, much cheaper than the U.S. S&P 500's 1.9 and the pan-European STOXX Europe 600's 1.4, data from Thomson Reuters Datastream showed. On Friday, the Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to 9,446.01 to a seven-month closing high, and rose 5.8 percent in November to log its best monthly performance since February. The broader Topix added 0.3 percent to 781.46. The benchmark Nikkei is up 11.7 percent this year, slightly behind a 12.6 percent rise in the S&P 500 and a 12.8 percent gain in the STOXX Europe 600. > Wall St ends flat as 'fiscal cliff' focus lingers > Euro subdued, China data cheers Aussie dollar > Treasuries flat as profit-taking offsets month-end buying > Gold down for day and month on U.S. fiscal worries > Oil posts first monthly rise since August STOCKS TO WATCH --SHARP CORP Sharp has agreed to sell three of its television assembly factories outside Japan to Hon Hai Precision Industry, a deal which would total about 55 billion yen ($667 million), the Sankei newspaper reported on Saturday. Separately, semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron Ltd said on Friday it has dissolved a joint venture with Sharp to develop equipment to make thin-film silicon solar power cells, amid weak demand for the technology. The venture was set up in February 2008. --TOYOTA MOTOR CORP Toyota is still struggling to revive sales in China, part of a broader slump to hit Japanese car firms after a diplomatic row between the countries. --FAST RETAILING The operator of casual fashion chain Uniqlo said on Friday it will buy an 80.1 percent stake in U.S. denim maker J Brand Holdings from Star Avenue Capital and J Brand managers for $290 million to gain more brand clout in the United States. --U-SHIN LTD French car parts equipment maker Valeo said on Friday it had agreed to sell its unit which makes locks, handles and similar products to U-Shin for an enterprise value of 223 million euros ($289 million).
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With the Nifty breaching 8,500, sentiments are again bullish. But markets have been in the 8,200-8,600 range for some time and stocks across the board do not give the required confidence except for the liquidity factor. Many frontline stocks are not participating on the upside and the core sector is in a downtrend, writes Ambareesh Baliga. Column