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Tokyo stocks may edge higher, banks in focus

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) Tokyo stocks may edge higher on Monday, with shares of major banks such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.

rising on expectations that lenders could beat their earnings forecasts.

But gains are likely to be limited as investors continue to worry about the outlook for Japan's economy.

Shares of banks are likely to be a major focus for the market this week, as many lenders are due to report their earnings results.

''Banks will start reporting their results today. I think those results will help influence the market,'' said Kenichi Hirano, an operating officer at Tachibana Securities.

''But market sentiment has been bruised as of late, so I think it could take a little time for it to recover.'' Nikkei futures pointed to a slight drop in the market.

December futures traded in Chicago closed at 16,055, down 15 points from their close in Osaka The Nikkei average is likely to move between 16,000 and 16,300 on Monday, market participants said.

It fell 0.45 percent to 16,091.73 on Friday.

In the United States, the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average rose to another record close on Friday, adding 0.30 percent to 12,342.56. But the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.13 percent to 2,445.86 STOCKS TO WATCH -- The Goodwill Group Inc., other staffing firms The staffing agency said on Saturday it had spent about 88.3 billion yen through an investment company to take a 67 percent stake in privately held Crystal Co. Ltd, a rival that is about three times its size in terms of sales.

To reflect Crystal's earnings contribution, Goodwill raised its group net profit forecast for the business year to June by 75 percent to 7 billion yen while lifting its sales estimate to 550 billion yen from 240 billion yen.

-- Uniden Corp.

The maker of mobile and cordless phones on Friday cut its earnings forecasts for the first half and full year, citing weak sales in the U.S. market. For the full year to March, it lowered its group net profit estimate by 70 percent to 1.5 billion yen.

-- Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) A Japanese government panel will seek to have two regional units of NTT cut rates for local phone calls, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper reported on Sunday.

-- Bridgestone Corp.

Japan's top tyre maker will boost annual capital spending by 25 percent to about 250 billion yen on average for the next three years, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said on Sunday.

-- Nippon Paper Group Inc. and Rengo Co.

Nippon Paper Group Inc. said on Monday it is considering a three-way alliance with smaller rival Rengo Co. Ltd. and trading house Sumitomo Corp.

Nippon Paper spokeswoman Miho Fujita said the company will hold a news conference on the alliance later on Monday.

-- Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.

Sanyo will likely post a net loss for the current business year, missing its own forecast of an annual profit, hit by sluggish mobile phone sales and restructuring costs, a company source said on Saturday.

-- Fujitsu Ltd.

Nifty Corp., an Internet service provider wholly owned by Japanese electronics group Fujitsu, said on Friday it would sell its stock for less than its initial assumed price, suggesting weak demand for its IPO.

Separately, an industry source told Reuters that NTT DoCoMo Inc has chosen Fujitsu to supply the base stations for its so-called super 3G network. NEC Corp. was chosen as one supplier of handsets for the network.

-- Credit Saison Co. Ltd.

Credit Saison, a consumer credit firm and the largest in credit cards among retail companies, reported a half-year net loss as it has faced a flood of demands to repay interest charges deemed illegal by courts.

-- Wood One Co. Ltd.

Wood One, a producer of secondary processed plywoods, said on Friday after the market closed it would launch a TOB to buy a 50.01 percent stake in Beltecno Corp. through a special purpose company.

Wood One said it will pay 850 yen per share, compared with Friday's closing price of 745 yen, from Nov. 20-Dec. 21.

Reuters DKS PM0520

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