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Nikkei edges up as Toyota, other blue chips sought

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Apr 21 (Reuters) The Nikkei average was up 0.12 percent on Friday, with gains in blue-chips such as Toyota Motor Co. Ltd., offsetting declines in steel, non-ferrous and energy stocks after a fall in oil and commodities prices.

Investors are, however, mostly seen staying on the sidelines ahead of earnings reports and outlooks from top companies like Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., as Japan's reporting season peaks later this month.

The Group of Seven rich nations meet in Washington on Friday, when they are expected to discuss rising global interest rates and soaring oil prices.

''The market is basically in a lull ahead of the weekend when G7 nations meet and before the top earnings season,'' said Teruhisa Ishikawa, manager at Mizuho Investors Securities' investment information department.

''But I can see a glut of interest in blue-chip companies as they are safer bets,'' he said.

The Nikkei average was up 21.16 points at 17,338.69 as of 0055 GMT. The TOPIX index was up 0.10 percent at 1,749.66.

Shares in Toyota, the world's second-biggest auto maker, and several other auto makers, advanced helped by an initial rating coverage by JPMorgan on the Japanese auto industry with a ''bullish sector stance''.

Toyota was up 1.3 percent at 6,810 yen after analyst Takaki Nakanishi gave it an ''overweight'' rating and said it was his top pick in the industry. The company was also added to the brokerage's focus list.

Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic products, was up 0.4 percent at 2,830 yen. Rival Sony Corp., the most active issue by value, was up 1.5 percent at 6,030 yen.

Yahoo Japan Corp., Japan's biggest Internet portal which a day earlier forecast higher results in the current quarter, was up 0.9 percent at 67,300 yen.

But Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Japan's No.1 electric furnace steel maker, lost 6.3 percent to 2,290 yen amid disappointment over its weak earnings outlook.

Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd., Japan's biggest gold producer, dropped 2.9 percent to 1,703 yen. Oil developer INPEX Holdings Inc.

lost 1.6 percent to 1.21 million yen.

REUTERS SC PM0646

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