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POLL-Nikkei outlook tepid on corporate earnings, economic worries

* cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=stock-index-poll poll data

* Nikkei seen at 23,300 at end of this year

* Index forecast to rise to 24,750 by end-2021

TOKYO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Japanese shares have limited potential for further gains this year, according to a Reuters poll of strategists concerned about corporate earnings, the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and questions over Tokyo’s political leadership.

The outlook for next year is slightly more optimistic on expectations Japan’s economic growth and company earnings will rebound, despite a litany of global risks.

The median estimate of nearly 30 analysts and fund managers polled Aug. 12-25 put the Nikkei benchmark at 23,300 at the end of 2020.

That is 11% higher than a Reuters poll in May that forecast the index at 21,000 at year’s end, but the latest poll still shows limited upside compared to current market levels.

On Tuesday the Nikkei rose to 23,431.04, returning to where it was trading before the coronavirus outbreak triggered a global equity sell-off in February.

“We’ve already priced in a fairly strong recovery from the coronavirus, but recent indications are that Japan’s recovery won’t be as strong as some people expect,” said Shingo Ide, chief equity strategist at NLI Research Institute.

The Nikkei is expected to rise to 24,000 by June next year and then rise to 24,750 at the end of 2021, the poll showed.

Japan’s most recent batch of corporate earnings was disappointing, and many companies have declined to issue forecasts, causing some analysts to turn cautious.

Analysts and asset managers are also worried about market volatility after the U.S. presidential election in November and concerns about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s health after he visited hospital twice this month.

But Japanese stocks are not likely to fall much thanks to a global wave of quantitative easing and fiscal stimulus measures deployed to combat the coronavirus that is still supporting risk assets, analysts said. Market participants are also optimistic about progress toward developing a coronavirus vaccine.

The Nikkei has more room to gain next year but is likely to lag other major bourses. Diplomatic tensions between the United States and China are not likely to improve next year, which is one reason to be cautious on Japanese stocks, analysts said.

Next year some investors could shy from the Nikkei due to uncertainty about who will replace Abe after his term as ruling party leader expires in September 2021.

Other stories from the Reuters Q3 global stock markets poll: Reporting and polling by Stanley White, and the markets team in TOKYO and Sarmista Sen and Khushboo Mittal in BENGALURU; Editing by Tom Brown

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