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Japan stocks seen hitting new highs as techs gain

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Apr 7 (Reuters) Tokyo stocks are seen hitting new multi-year highs on Friday, with technology firms such as Tokyo Electron Ltd. set to gain after the technology-heavy US Nasdaq share index hit a five-year closing high.

Shares in Matsushita Electric Industrial Co and NEC Corp may be in focus after the Nihon Keizai newspaper said the two will set up a joint venture with US firm Texas Instruments Inc to develop mobile phone parts.

Advances by US technology stocks would also continue to boost sentiment for their Japanese counterparts, said Shinji Igarashi, equity manager at the sales department of Chuo Securities.

''Yesterday chip-related stocks such as Tokyo Electron and other technology issues were very firm ... I do think that will continue today,'' he said.

Traders expect the Nikkei to move between 17,350 and 17,550 on Friday.

It rose 1.42 percent to 17,489.33 on Thursday, its highest close since July 2000.

The TOPIX index posted its highest close since November 1991 on Thursday, rising 1.70 per cent to 1,775.67.

In Chicago, Nikkei futures expiring in June closed at 17,455, a loss of 55 points from the Osaka finish.

The Nasdaq Composite Index hit a five-year closing high as shares in Apple Computer Inc. advanced for a second straight session after the company released software that allows Mac computers to run Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The Tokyo stock exchange has shortened overall afternoon trading by 30 minutes to avoid computer system problems. Trade will begin at 1 p.m. (0400 GMT) instead of the usual 12:30 p.m.

and will finish at 3 p.m.

STOCKS TO WATCH -- NEC Corp.

The company said it and Siemens have jointly won a contract to build a wireless network for an advanced third-generation (3G) service for 3 Hong Kong, a unit of Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd.

-- Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd.

Japan's third-largest steel maker said it wants to accelerate a shift to high-end steel products in the next three years, when rapid growth in profit is expected to come to an end.

Reuters PG VP0517

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