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December 11, 2006    

Tokyo steel sector gains on consolidation rumors

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by Elaine Frei

The Tokyo equities markets saw gains on Monday, despite investor caution ahead of a decision on US interest rates by the US Federal Reserve and the release of the latest Tankan survey from the Bank of Japan, both due soon. Also limiting gains was a significant decline in the consumer finance sector. The Nikkei 225 and the Topix index each added 0.7 percent on the session, to 16,527.99 and 1,627.97 respectively.

The consumer finance sector’s declines came after UBS forecast that lending would be down b y 30 percent in the next three years. Aiful dropped 3.4 percent to ¥3,660, while Takefuji fell 4 percent to ¥4,530 and Acom was 6 percent lower to ¥4,260.

In the tobacco sector, Japan Tobacco added 2.9 percent to ¥566,000, the third session of gains in a row for the company, as talk continued concerning its bid for UK tobacco company Gallaher.

Consolidator rumors sent the steel sector higher on the session even though some analysts see a successful hostile takeover of any Japanese steel company as only a slight possibility. Kobe Steel added 2.3 percent to ¥402, while Sumitomo Metal Industries gained 3.2 percent to ¥482. JFE was 3.8 percent higher to ¥5,720 and Nippon Steel was up 4 percent to ¥570.

The automobile manufacturing sector saw gains on a weakening yen. Toyota gained 1.4 percent to ¥7,140, while Honda Motor added 1.7 percent to ¥4,140.

Meanwhile the Osaka-listed games company Nintendo added 3.5 percent to ¥28,650 on data showing that sales of its Wii video game console are booming in the US.

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