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Japan stocks seen moving little, earnings eyed

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Apr 26 (Reuters) Japanese stocks are seen moving little on Wednesday, with the benchmark Nikkei average hovering near 17,000 ahead of a series of earnings reports due after the market closes, such as those from Sharp Corp.

Other companies to announce full-year results and outlooks on Wednesday include Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Japan's third-biggest auto maker, No.2 brokerage Daiwa Securities Group Inc. and chip-equipment maker Advantest Corp.

Nikon Corp. may be a focus after the camera and chip-equipment maker said it would beat its 2005/06 operating profit estimate by 25 percent and boost its dividend, helped by a weaker yen and cost cuts at its semiconductor stepper business.

The Tokyo market is likely to remain directionless for the time being as investors wait for the rush of earnings from blue-chip companies due this week.

''A small recovery yesterday shows how weak the momentum now is,'' said Shinji Igarashi, equity manager at Chuo Securities.

''Things look unclear at least until such blue-chip companies as high-tech and heavy machinery firms announce their earnings later this week.'' Traders expect the Nikkei average to move between 16,800 and 17,100 on Wednesday. On Tuesday it gained 0.33 percent, reclaiming some of the previous session's 2.81 percent loss.

In Chicago, Nikkei futures expiring in June closed at 16,920, a fall of 20 points from the Osaka finish.

Investors will also closely monitor Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the Joint Economic Committee on Thursday for clues on the U.S. Federal Reserve's thinking about interest rates in one of the largest markets for Japan's exports.

STOCKS TO WATCH -- Resona Holdings Inc.

Japan's fourth-biggest banking group plans to make its first dividend payment since it was effectively nationalised in 2003 and is considering paying 500 yen to 1,000 yen per common share for the year ended in March, the Nihon Keizai business daily said on Wednesday.

-- Nissan Motor Co.

Japan's second-largest auto maker posted a 3.4 percent fall in fourth-quarter operating profit after it had no new models to bring to the all-important U.S. market, and forecast little improvement ahead.

-- KDDI Corp.

Japan's second-largest telecoms operator on Tuesday reported a full-year profit in line with expectations, but it forecast a sharp slowdown in growth in its main mobile phone unit.

-- Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

The drug maker posted a 40 percent quarterly profit drop on Tuesday on weaker sales of flu drug Tamiflu, which had benefited from an influenza epidemic a year ago.

-- Elpida Memory Inc., NEC Electronics Corp.

The chip makers posted annual net losses on sharp price falls and NEC Electronics forecast a larger-than-expected shortfall for this year.

-- Orix Corp.

Japan's largest leasing firm expects to reap healthy returns in the Chinese property market over the mid- to long-term despite a recent slowdown in the market, a senior executive told Reuters in an interview -- Seiko Epson Corp.

The world's second-largest maker of ink-jet printers posted its biggest quarterly loss on record due to restructuring and sliding prices of chips and displays, and it forecast a milder-than-expected recovery this year.

REUTERS OM RAI0615

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