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Japan stocks seen lower on US demand worries

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) Tokyo stocks are seen likely to fall on Thursday after a report showed U.S. existing home sales at the lowest level in over two years, increasing concern about weakening consumer demand in a key market for Japanese goods.

Shares of firms such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. may be sold on expectations they will see slackening U.S. sales.

''In the past, when (U.S.) home sales have fallen off, that has had an impact on consumer spending there ... we have to wait and see how much of an impact this will have,'' said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

Shares of auto firms and other companies that are sensitive to U.S. demand may fall, he said.

Nikkei futures pointed to a decline in the market, with September futures closing at 16,105 in Chicago, down 65 points from the Osaka finish.

The Nikkei is expected to move between 16,000 and 16,200 on Thursday, market participants said.

It fell 0.11 percent to 16,163.03 on Wednesday.

U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday after the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 4.1 percent in July to their lowest level since January 2004. The data raised concern that consumer spending will slow and hurt economic growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 0.37 percent while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.71 per cent.

STOCKS TO WATCH -- Nippon Steel Corp Along with Mittal Steel, Nippon Steel will invest a combined 30 billion yen (7.8 million) to build a new auto-use steel sheet plant at their U.S. joint venture, doubling its annual production capacity, business daily Nihon Keizai reported on Thursday.

-- Sony Corp.

The company said it would offer 27 playable games for its PlayStation 3 at the Tokyo Game Show next month, a sign of progress in critical software development ahead of the November launch of the latest version of its blockbuster game console.

-- TV Tokyo Corp.

Japanese billionaire investor Eitaro Itoyama has taken a stake of 3 percent in the nation's fifth-largest TV company, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday.

REUTERS VJ BST0541

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