TOKYO, Dec 7 Japan's Nikkei share average is expected to tread in range on Friday after closing above the key 9,500-mark for the first time in seven months in the previous session and ahead of U.S. jobs data. The Nikkei is likely to trade between 9,450 and 9,600, strategists said, while Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 9,540 on Thursday, unchanged from the Osaka close. "We will see some profit-taking. However, there are expectations for further upside. There are very strong expectations. Investors will not want to sell too much," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc. The Nikkei has rallied 10.2 percent over the past 3-1/2 weeks as the yen has weakened after Shinzo Abe, the leader of the main opposition party which is expected to win a Dec. 16 general election, called for the Bank of Japan to embark on "unlimited easing" and set an inflation target of 2 percent. Half of Japan's manufacturers say their top request for the winner of the election is a push to weaken the yen, which they see as critical to reviving the country's economy, a Reuters polls showed. Hiroki also said some investors might keep to the sidelines ahead of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due later on Friday. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast 93,000 jobs were created in the United States last month compared with 171,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is seen at 7.9 percent. On Thursday, the Nikkei rose 0.8 percent to 9,545.16, hitting a seven-month closing high for the second day in a row and taking the index to "overbought" territory, with its 14-day relative strength index at 70.5. The broader Topix ended 0.9 percent higher at 788.74. Investor demand for Nikkei index call options outstripped demand for put options on Thursday. Societe Generale said the most traded call options had a strike price of 9,750, 2.1 percent above where the Nikkei ended on Thursday, and a December maturity. The next most traded was another December call with a strike price of 10,000, followed by a put at 9,250 and another call at 9,500. The benchmark Nikkei is up 12.9 percent this year, in line with a 12.4 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 but behind a 14 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index. > Apple's gains lift tech in quiet day before jobs data > Euro slides on rate-cut hopes after ECB decision > U.S. 10-year yields near 3-week lows before jobs data > Gold up on ECB rate cut talk, non-farm payrolls eyed > Oil falls on euro zone concerns, dollar strength STOCKS TO WATCH --JAPAN TOBACCO INC Japan Tobacco said on Thursday it has applied to sell an anti-HIV drug treatment in Japan. If approved by the Health Ministry, it would be the only once-daily single-tablet regimen for HIV infection in Japan, it said. --NISSAN MOTOR CO Renault and partner Nissan's $750 million deal to give the French manufacturer effective control of Lada maker OAO AvtoVAZ is expected to be signed next week, two sources close to the Russian company said on Thursday. --KENEDIX INC Japan real estate asset manager Kenedix has brought in state-owned lender Development Bank of Japan and developer Tokyu Land Corp as partners to develop a property in central Tokyo at a cost of 80 billion yen ($972 million).
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