Nikkei almost flat, exporters sold on strong yen

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TOKYO, Oct 25 (Reuters) Japan's Nikkei average was almost flat on Thursday, with exporters including Canon Inc sold on a stronger yen.

Bank shares including Mizuho Financial Group Inc fell after Merrill Lynch&Co reported its biggest ever quarterly loss on Wednesday.

''It's likely to be a downbeat day,'' said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of dealing at Jujiya Securities.

''There's a strong incentive to hold off bets before earnings announcement by Sony and Canon after the close.'' Sony Corp, Canon and Honda Motor are among companies to report earnings later in the day.

As of 0058 GMT, the benchmark Nikkei was up 5.1 points at 16,363.46.

Falls in bank shares pulled down the broader TOPIX index, which was down 0.7 percent at 1,553.41.

Mizuho Financial Group fell 2.3 percent to 598,000 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc dropped 1.4 percent 828,000 yen, following Merrill's losses.

Merrill, the world's largest brokerage, reported a TOKYO, Oct 25 (Reuters) Japan's Nikkei average was almost flat on Thursday, with exporters including Canon Inc sold on a stronger yen.

Bank shares including Mizuho Financial Group Inc fell after Merrill Lynch&Co reported its biggest ever quarterly loss on Wednesday.

''It's likely to be a downbeat day,'' said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of dealing at Jujiya Securities.

''There's a strong incentive to hold off bets before earnings announcement by Sony and Canon after the close.'' Sony Corp, Canon and Honda Motor are among companies to report earnings later in the day.

As of 0058 GMT, the benchmark Nikkei was up 5.1 points at 16,363.46.

Falls in bank shares pulled down the broader TOPIX index, which was down 0.7 percent at 1,553.41.

Mizuho Financial Group fell 2.3 percent to 598,000 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc dropped 1.4 percent 828,000 yen, following Merrill's losses.

Merrill, the world's largest brokerage, reported a $2.3 billion loss and eye-popping write-downs of $7.9 billion for bad bets on mortgages and leveraged loans.

Canon fell 2.8 percent to 5,570 yen as the dollar slid to around 114.05 yen after falling 0.5 percent to 114.20 in late New York trade.

Elpida Memory Inc, Japan's sole maker of DRAM chips, slid 4.7 percent to 3,860 yen after it posted a 64 percent fall in quarterly operating profit on Wednesday amid tumbling memory chip prices, but said it would keep ramping up output.

Reuters AK VP0650 .3 billion loss and eye-popping write-downs of .9 billion for bad bets on mortgages and leveraged loans.

Canon fell 2.8 percent to 5,570 yen as the dollar slid to around 114.05 yen after falling 0.5 percent to 114.20 in late New York trade.

Elpida Memory Inc, Japan's sole maker of DRAM chips, slid 4.7 percent to 3,860 yen after it posted a 64 percent fall in quarterly operating profit on Wednesday amid tumbling memory chip prices, but said it would keep ramping up output.

Reuters AK VP0650

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