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Kyodo economic news summary -4-.

TOKYO, Oct. 30 Kyodo

---------- Top 3 steelmakers report mixed mid-year earnings results

TOKYO - Business performances varied among the nation's top steelmakers in the six-month period through September, with Nippon Steel Corp. making a respectable showing while Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. and Kobe Steel Ltd. booked lower profits due to higher shipping costs and metal prices, according to the companies' reports released Tuesday.

All of them, however, saw their sales rise as they enjoyed brisk product demand.

---------- Matsushita sees record 1st-half sales on demand for digital cameras

TOKYO - Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. on Tuesday reported its largest-ever group sales for the first half of the fiscal year, helped by brisk demand for its digital cameras and flat-panel TVs.

In the April-September period, Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic brand products, said its consolidated operating profit grew 6.1 percent from the previous year to 219.99 billion yen, the highest since fiscal 1990, on sales of 4.53 trillion yen, up 3.1 percent.

---------- Kyocera's interim group sales hit record high

TOKYO - Kyocera Corp. said Tuesday its consolidated sales in the six months through September rose 3.4 percent from a year earlier to an all-time high of 636.56 billion yen on the back of brisk sales of information appliances and electronic devices.

Its operating profit in the April-September period also advanced 7.4 percent to 67.82 billion yen.

---------- M'bishi Motors swings back to operating profit in 1st half

TOKYO - Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Tuesday it swung back into an operating profit of 18.83 billion yen in the April-September first half of the current fiscal year from a loss of 5.52 billion yen a year earlier, marking such an interim profit for the first time in five years, thanks to robust overseas sales and the weaker yen.

Based on its strong interim results, the automaker raised its consolidated earnings forecast for the full fiscal year, although it continues to suffer a sales slump in the domestic market.

---------- Fujifilm's 1st-half operating profit, sales hit record highs

TOKYO - Fujifilm Holdings Corp. said Tuesday that its first-half group operating profit and sales in the first six months of fiscal 2007 hit record highs thanks to brisk sales of digital medical imaging equipment and other products as well as the weaker yen.

In a consolidated earnings report for the April-September period, the leading photo film manufacturer said its operating profit more than doubled to 108.66 billion yen on sales of 1.41 trillion, up 4.1 percent.

---------- Yamato Holdings boost interim group net profit by 65%

TOKYO - Yamato Holdings Co. said Tuesday its group net profit advanced 65.1 percent in the first half of fiscal 2007 to 15.04 billion yen as the major parcel delivery firm promoted cost-cutting efforts amid high oil prices.

The company's operating profit for the April-September period rose 17.3 percent to 26.71 billion yen on revenues of 584.20 billion yen, up 4.7 percent.

---------- Horse race body farms out most contracts via non-competitive bids

TOKYO - The government's Board of Audit said Tuesday the country's horseracing association farmed out nearly 80 percent of its contracts for cleaning, security and other services through non-competitive tenders in fiscal 2006.

The audit authority said the Japan Racing Association, wholly owned by the government, ''should introduce competitive contracts while examining the need for securing fairness'' in horse racing.

---------- Another sweets maker inspected for alleged false labeling

TSU, Japan - Japanese central and local government officials continued to inspect the headquarters of another time-honored sweets maker, Ofuku Mochi Honke Yugen Kaisha, on Tuesday on suspicion it falsely labeled production dates and ingredients of its ''Ofuku Mochi'' rice cake, known as a souvenir for visitors to the Ise Jingu grand shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture, for more than 25 years.

The officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Mie prefectural government conducted the on-the-spot inspection under the food sanitation law and the Japanese Agricultural Standard Law.

---------- Sapporo to tie up with Morgan Stanley to manage properties

TOKYO - Sapporo Holdings Ltd. said Tuesday it and its subsidiary Yebisu Garden Place Co. will tie up with Morgan Stanley Japan Securities Co. to jointly manage properties.

Under the tie-up, a special purpose company to be created by a Morgan Stanley real estate fund will acquire at least 5,891,000 shares or 1.5 percent of voting shares in Sapporo Holdings by the end of December and raise the stake to 19,336,000 shares or 5 percent by June 2008.

---------- Taiwan formally announces eel export ban

TAIPEI - Taiwan on Tuesday formally announced a ban on the export of young Anguilla japonica eel, a popular but limited food item in Japan, one day after trade and agriculture officials warned that the ban was imminent.

Much of Japan's domestic production of the eel depends on Taiwan, which exported nearly 9 tons of the eels smaller than market size to Japan in 2005. Japan in turn cultivates imported young eels in nurseries until they are big enough to be consumed.

---------- Dollar falls to mid-114 yen level ahead of Fed policy meeting

TOKYO - The U.S. dollar edged lower into the mid-114 yen level Tuesday in Tokyo as investors bought back the yen on renewed concerns over the outlook for the U.S. economy following a media report that the U.S. Federal Reserve may not carry out a rate cut at its two-day policy meeting starting later in the day.

Meanwhile, the euro tumbled against the dollar and the yen as anxiety loomed over the impact of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis on European financial institutions following Tuesday's lackluster earnings report by UBS AG, dealers said.

---------- 10-year JGB yield little changed ahead of monetary policy decisions

TOKYO - The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond was little changed Tuesday amid a tentative mood ahead of policy decisions by the Japanese and U.S. central banks Wednesday.

In interdealer trading, the yield on the No. 288, 1.7 percent issue inched up 0.005 percentage point from Monday's close to 1.610 percent.

---------- Nikkei ends slightly lower on pharmaceuticals' fall, but trims losses

TOKYO - The benchmark Nikkei stock index closed lower Tuesday for the first time in three trading days as pharmaceutical issues weighed on the market before it trimmed earlier losses on dip-buying later in the day.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 47.07 points, or 0.28 percent, to 16,651.01. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 0.72 point, or 0.04 percent, to 1,607.21.

---------- Margin stock buying in Japan up for 2nd straight week

TOKYO - Margin buying on Japan's three major stock exchanges rose last week for the second week in a row, the Tokyo Stock Exchange said Tuesday.

The combined balance of shares bought on credit as of Oct. 26 came to 3,575.59 billion yen, up 41.56 billion yen from a week earlier, according to data collected at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya bourses.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Nov 3, 2007
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