Japan stocks set to rise after gains on Wall St

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TOKYO, Oct 24 (Reuters) Japanese stocks are likely to rise on Wednesday, led by exporters such as Sony Corp following a rally on Wall Street and a slight fall in the yen.

One stock in focus may be Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, after the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday that the drugmaker is likely to post an operating profit of about 530 billion yen (.6 billion) for the year to March, up 16 percent thanks to brisk sales of its diabetes drug in the United States.

''The Tokyo market is likely to be relatively solid today, following gains in the U.S. market and the dollar regaining some ground against the yen,'' said Kazuhiro Takahashi, a general manager of equity marketing at Daiwa Securities SMBC.

''But the gains won't be large enough to cover the losses earlier this week, as investors are in a wait-and-see mood ahead of earnings announcements.'' Yahoo Japan Corp and Elpida Memory Inc are among the companies scheduled to announce results on Wednesday.

Nikkei futures traded in Chicago ended at 16,580, up 100 points from Osaka futures trading, in a possible indication of how the market may move.

Market participants said the Nikkei average would likely trade between 16,400 and 16,600 after edging up 0.1 percent to close at 16,450.58 on Tuesday.

U.S. stocks rallied on Tuesday as Apple Inc's strong profit and a Chinese distribution deal for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion suggested the sector is the place to hide from a slowing U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 0.8 percent and the Standard&Poor's 500 Index was up 0.9 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.7 percent.

The dollar was trading around 114.86 yen after rising 0.4 percent to 114.88 in late New York.

STOCKS TO WATCH -- Kao Corp T> The household goods maker on Tuesday posted a 4.9 percent fall in group operating profit for the first half ended Sept 30 to 55.6 billion yen. Kao said first-half sales rose 8.6 percent to 654.5 billion yen.

Kao also said it planned to buy back up to 15 billion yen worth of its own stock, or up to 4.6 million shares. That accounts for 0.8 percent of its total shares outstanding, excluding treasury stock.

-- Nissan Motor Co T> Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Tuesday he saw ''no relief'' in the tough business conditions in the United States next year, projecting overall demand of 15.5 to 16 million vehicles in 2008.

-- Toyota Motor Corp T> The president of Toyota said on Tuesday he was bullish about future demand for cars in the United States, the world's biggest market, but that the shrinking Japanese market was a challenge.

-- Yokohama Rubber Co T> Yokohama Rubber will likely post a 180 percent jump in group pretax profit for the first half ended Sept. 30 to about 8.5 billion yen, helped by robust sales of high-performance tyres in Europe, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday.

The figure would beat Yokohama Rubber's previous forecast for a 7.5 billion yen profit, the newspaper said.

-- Honda Motor Co T> Japan's second-biggest automaker will start churning out gasoline-electric hybrid cars in large volumes in earnest with a hybrid-only family car planned for a 2009 launch, Chief Executive Takeo Fukui said on Tuesday.

Reuters AK VP0525

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