Poll: Japan stocks seen posting first annual drop to end 'Abenomics' rally

Poll: Japan stocks seen posting first annual drop to end 'Abenomics' rally

Thomas White

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese stocks are forecast to have their first calendar year fall since 2011 this year, ending a four-year 'Abenomics' rally, according to a Reuters poll of strategists conducted just before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's election win.

Analysts had expected Abe to announce fresh stimulus after a victory in Sunday's Upper House elections, and he did on Monday, a move that might help pare some of this year's losses.

The Nikkei share average <.n225> added a combined 6.4 percent on Monday and Tuesday, almost recovering its pre-Brexit vote level.

So far, the Nikkei has fallen around 15 percent this year. Although the median forecast of more than 20 analysts polled by Reuters in the past week showed the index rising to 17,500 by end-2016, that would still be an 8 percent decline in 2016.

The last poll, in April, saw the Nikkei at 18,500 at end-2016.

Analysts could get more upbeat in coming weeks. But long-term issues such as a stronger yen and a litany of global risks, including the after-effects from Britain's vote to leave the European Union, may weigh.

Forecasts from equity strategists for the end of this year ranged from 9,000 to 18,500. By mid-2017, the Nikkei is expected to recover to 18,350. Forecasts ranged between 7,000 to 20,000. The index is then seen rising to 19,000 at the end of 2017.

For the rest of 2016, positive domestic catalysts such as passage of a large supplementary budget and increased shareholder distributions will likely attract buyers and help stocks, analysts said.

But before recovery, some analysts expect more selling accompanied with volatility, which may drag down the Nikkei benchmark index to around 14,500 especially if Japan Inc.'s April-June earnings disappoint. Uncertainty over the U.S. presidential election is also a risk, they said.

As of May, SMBC Nikko Securities forecast a 1.7 percent gain in pretax profits for 250 companies with large market capitalization for this fiscal year ending March 2017, on the assumption the dollar would trade at 110 yen.

But on Tuesday morning, the dollar was trading at 102.98 yen , compared with its post-Brexit vote low of 99 yen on June 24.

SMBC Nikko Securities said if the yen stayed around 102 throughout the year, it would then push down average pretax profits by around 3 percent from May's forecast.

Masashi Akutsu, equity strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities, expects dismal Japanese corporate earnings in the April-June quarter, which will mean defensive stocks "may be bought for a while" but eventually shares of exporters will likely be revisited.

Meanwhile, market participants say that although Brexit uncertainty will likely persist, it will not likely lead to another financial market crisis.

"Uncertainty is an ever-present part of financial markets. The resulting confusion from the referendum is no different to investor anxiety in the recent past over the commodities price rout, a slowdown in the Chinese economy and tapering in the U.S.," said Martin King, co-managing director of Tyton Capital Advisors. "This is more noise."

(Poll data: )

(Other stories from the Reuters global stock markets poll:)

(Polling by Ayai Tomisawa and Reuters polls Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)