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Kyodo economic news summary -4-.

TOKYO, March 26 Kyodo

---------- Diet enacts FY 2004 budget, focus to shift to pension reforms

TOKYO - The Diet enacted Friday an 82.11 trillion yen state budget for fiscal 2004, which begins next Thursday, as the House of Councillors approved it with the backing of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling bloc.

The Diet passage means the ruling parties have achieved their goal of enacting the budget during the first half of the current Diet session that ends June 16.

---------- Ex-Takushoku execs ordered to pay 650 million yen over mismanagement

SAPPORO - The Sapporo District Court ordered nine former executives of failed Hokkaido Takushoku Bank on Friday to pay damages totaling 650 million yen to Resolution and Collection Corp., the state-backed debt collection body, for damaging the bank by providing dubious loans to three Sapporo hotel operators.

In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Katsuhiko Kasai said, ''Their lending decision was inappropriate based on insufficient gathering of information and evaluation.''

---------- Yoshinoya cuts earnings forecast for FY 2003 due to ban on U.S. beef

TOKYO - Yoshinoya D&C Co., Japan's No. 1 chain serving the ''gyudon'' beef-on-rice dish, said Friday it has cut its earnings forecast for the just-ended business year as the government ban on U.S. beef imports dealt a blow to its business.

Yoshinoya said it now expects to report a consolidated net profit of 5.69 billion yen for the year that ended Feb. 29, down 20.4% from the estimate of 7.15 billion yen released Oct. 9.

---------- JBIC inks 6.8 bil. yen loan accord with Philippine power firm

TOKYO - The governmental Japan Bank for International Cooperation said Friday it has signed an agreement to extend up to 6.8 billion yen to the Philippines' state-run National Power Corp. in a syndicated loan with commercial banks.

The loan will be used to purchase submarine cable and transformer facilities through Japan's Kanematsu Corp. and J-Power Systems Corp. to increase the transmission of electricity from Leyte to Cebu, the bank said.

---------- Japan's vehicle output rises 1.3% in Feb., 1st gain in 4 months

TOKYO - Production of cars, trucks and buses in Japan rose 1.3% in February from a year earlier to 913,561 vehicles for the first increase in four months, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Friday.

Production of passenger cars increased 1.4% to 765,331 vehicles, also up for the first time in four months. Output of passenger cars with engines of more than 2000 cc rose 11.3% to 346,730 vehicles, but production of smaller cars fell 13.1% to 288,128.

---------- Chishiki to be president of Kanebo's new cosmetics firm

TOKYO - Ailing cosmetics company Kanebo Ltd. will appoint Kenji Chishiki, president of its subsidiary Lissage Ltd., as president of a new company to be created in May in a spinoff of its cosmetics operations, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Chishiki, 41, is a former Kanebo employee and has been president of Lissage, a cosmetics company established in 1997, since April 1998.

---------- Japan snapping up Aussie beef cuts for 'gyudon' dishes

SYDNEY - The price of Australian brisket has soared 61% since December as Japanese buyers are snapping up the product for use in ''gyudon'' beef bowl dishes, industry body Meat and Livestock Australia said Friday.

In Japan, some restaurants and fast food chains were forced to stop serving beef, in particular the popular gyudon, because of a lack of supply.

---------- Hollywood's Olsen twins to launch clothing line at Seiyu in Aug.

TOKYO - Hollywood celebrity twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen announced Friday at their first media appearance in Japan that their clothing line will be sold here starting Aug. 1 at about 100 supermarkets operated by Seiyu Ltd.

Seiyu will market ''mary-kateandashley'' brand products, including clothing and accessories, for 1,000-3,000 yen, said Teizo Baba, who is in charge of Seiyu's merchandise planning. The targeted consumer group will be mainly girls aged 9-16, although the product range will also cover toddlers up to girls in their late teens.

---------- Tokyo stocks surge, Nikkei up 2.08% to 21-month closing high

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks closed sharply higher Friday on optimism over Japan's economic outlook, with the benchmark Nikkei index scoring its largest single-day point gain so far this year to hit a fresh 21-month closing high.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average advanced 239.74 points, or 2.08%, to close at 11,770.65, marking its highest finish since June 3, 2002, when it closed at 11,901.39. The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index (TOPIX) of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange gained 16.32 points, or 1.41%, to 1,176.32, marking its highest finish since Aug. 15, 2001, when it ended at 1,194.33.

---------- Dollar sinks below 106 yen as dollar bears negate BOJ bids

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar sank below 106 yen Friday in Tokyo as dollar bears nullified suspected Bank of Japan interventions in light of a surge in Japanese equities prices and chronic U.S. trade deficits.

At 5 p.m., the dollar was quoted at 105.68-70 yen, compared with Thursday's 5 p.m. quotes of 106.15-25 yen in New York and 105.95-97 yen in Tokyo.

---------- Cash bonds, futures prices fall after rises in Tokyo stocks

TOKYO - Prices of 10-year Japanese government bonds and JGB futures fell Friday on selling prompted by advances in Tokyo stocks that pushed the key Nikkei stock index to its largest single-day point gain so far this year.

In interdealer trading, the yield on the key No. 258 10-year, 1.3% government bond issue rose 0.100 percentage point from Thursday to 1.405%, marking the highest closing level for a benchmark 10-year bond issue since March 5, when it ended at 1.425%.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Mar 29, 2004
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