Tokyo stocks seen lower, banks set to slip

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Tokyo, Nov 16: Japanese stocks are seen set to open lower on Friday, with bank shares like Mizuho Financial Group Inc likely tracking falls in U.S. financial stocks on renewed concerns for subprime problems.

One of the stocks in the spotlight is NIS Group Co Ltd The consumer finance firm said on Thursday it would issue 30 billion yen ($272 million) in new stocks and bonds to a private equity firm to boost its financial health.

"The prevailing mood is wait-and-see. Investors are holding off to see if the market outlook will get better," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager of equity marketing at Daiwa Securities SMBC.

Market participants said the Nikkei is likely to trade between 15,000 and 15,300.

Nikkei futures traded in Chicago closed at 15,185 on Thursday, 205 points below the Osaka close indicating a lower opening.

On Thursday, the Nikkei average lost 0.67 percent to 15,396.30 while the broader TOPIX index inched up 0.08 percent to 1,498.86.

The dollar was around 110.40 yen after falling 1 percent to 110.31 yen in late New York.

U.S. stocks sank on Thursday, their sixth drop in the past seven sessions, on worry that credit losses from mortgage defaults and slumping home prices would grow worse, hurting the economy and corporate profits.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.91 percent and the Standard&Poor's 500 Index fell 1.32 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 0.98 percent.


-- Toyota Motor Corp Toyota plans to reduce the weight of its mid-sized passenger cars by about 10 percent with the aim of improving fuel efficiency by roughly 3 percent, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday.

The move is in response to tougher fuel economy standards in Japan, the United States and Europe, as well as growing global demand for fuel-efficient automobiles amid high gasoline prices, the newspaper said.

-- Nidec Sankyo, Yaskawa Electric and Nachi Fujikoshi Corp A unit of German robot maker Kuka AG seeks entry into Japan's LCD-making robot business, executives said on Thursday, as they eye a market dominated by Nidec Sankyo, Yaskawa Electric and Nachi Fujikoshi Corp.

-- Rakuten Inc Online shopping mall operator Rakuten said it had returned to profitability on a net basis, posting a profit of 43.57 billion yen for nine months to September, from a loss of 8.72 billion yen a year ago, as the sales of its stake in a China's top online travel agency, boosted the bottom line.

Strong online sales including travel services also helped the company, Rakuten said.

-- GS Yuasa Corp GS Yuasa will consolidate production of lead automotive batteries into two manufacturing bases from four by closing a factory in Kanagawa Prefecture and turning a factory in Kyoto into a research and development base, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday.

-- Tabuchi Electric Trading house Itochu Corp sold 6.12 percent of its stake in parts maker Tabuchi Electric to Nomura Holdings Inc, which will hold the shares temporarily. The move makes parts maker TDK Corp the top shareholder in Tabuchi, whose specialty is in custom-made power units for audio products, game consoles and TVs.

-- Starbucks Coffee Japan Ltd Starbucks Corp on Thursday reported a 35 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings but the coffee shop chain forecast 2008 earnings below many Wall Street estimates due to weak consumer spending, sending its shares lower.

Starbucks Coffee Japan is owned 40 percent by Starbucks Corp of the United States.


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