Barefoot Investor: RPT-Nikkei up on bargain hunting, volumes low

* Volume less than 1 billion shares

* Foreigners may buy Japan stocks next week

* Japan fund managers locked in profits in Nov-research firm
By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average rose 0.7
percent on Tuesday as investors hunted for bargains in recent
decliners, but volume was low due to an absence of foreign
participants before the Christmas holidays.

Analysts say the market is expected to see directionless
trading with thin volume this week, but may be re-energised next
week when foreign investors return from the holidays.

"We may see some window-dressing buying at the end of the
month, something of a trend every year," said Fujio Ando, senior
managing director at Chibagin Asset Management.

"They may buy large cyclical stocks at the year-end and the
Nikkei may rise further," Ando said.

Others said hedge funds were expected to be major buyers.

"Investors are expected to continue selling bonds and buying
equities, and hedge funds are likely to be the main players
behind such moves," said Masanaga Kono, chief strategist at
Amundi Japan.

Hedge funds remain on track to finish the year on a high
note, according to Eurekahedge, a hedge fund research company
based in Singapore. It said the Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index
gained 0.40 percent in November, marking the fifth consecutive
month of positive returns.

It added that returns across most regional hedge funds were
muted, with the exception of Japanese managers who reported gains
of 2.57 percent. "Positive movements in the Japanese markets
provided managers with ample opportunities to lock in substantial
gains," Eurekahedge said.

In November, the Nikkei rose above 10,000 points for the
first time since June, and finished the month with an 8 percent
gain. The Topix ended the month 6.2 percent higher.

"The November rallies provided a good base for the coming
months," Amundi Japan's Kono said.

By midday, the benchmark Nikkei .N225 gained 75.27 points
to 10,291.68, while the broader Topix .TOPX rose 0.6 percent to
903.59. Volume stood at 656 million shares.

The Nikkei will likely trade between 10,150 and 10,300,
analysts said, after shedding 0.9 percent to 10,216 on Monday.

Analysts added that receding tensions in the Korean Peninsula
provided comfort to the market.

North Korea stepped back from confrontation over "reckless"
military drills by the South on Monday and reportedly issued a
new offer on nuclear inspections, drawing a cautious response
from Seoul and Washington.
(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Chris Gallagher and
Joseph Radford)- Reuters


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