Sun, Jul 25, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Honda slides and LG.Philips drops on debut

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Japanese stocks declined on Friday, led by exporters such as Honda Motor Co and Canon Inc, after a three-day gain in crude oil futures raised concern higher fuel costs will reduce consumer spending in their biggest markets.

"Exporters will be badly hurt by an increase in the oil price," said Atsushi Osa, who helps manage the equivalent of US$110 billion in assets at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.

"Fears [are that] a potential slowdown in global growth will crimp their profits and make them less attractive,'' he said.

Japan

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.9 percent to 11,187.33 on Friday in Tokyo. The Nikkei dropped 2.2 percent last week, its third weekly drop in four. The Topix index shed 0.8 percent to 1,135.29, with automakers and computer-related shares accounting for a fifth of its decline.

Morgan Stanley Capital International's Asia-Pacific Index, which tracks more than 900 stocks, dropped 1.3 percent to 87.86, falling 2.5 percent this week.

The regional index has slumped 11 percent from this year's high on April 7 amid concern higher oil prices will slow consumer demand and hurt corporate profits. US retail sales last month fell by the most since February last year as energy costs climbed, while autos sold at the slowest annual rate in six years.

Elsewhere, LG.Philips LCD Co. shares tumbled in their debut in South Korea. Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd dropped after the company cut its sales forecast for this quarter.

The Colombo All-Share Index in Sri Lanka rose to a record, while indexes fell in all other markets except Hong Kong, Indonesia, India and the Philippines.

China's Shanghai Composite Index was the biggest decliner among the region's benchmarks this week, shedding 3.4 percent.

Honda, which gets as much as 90 percent of its operating profit from North America, slipped 1.6 percent to ¥5,020, erasing the week's gains. Canon, which relies on overseas sales for 70 percent of its revenue, fell 1.5 percent to ¥5,420. It dropped 2.2 percent this week.

Every 10 percent increase in the price of oil reduces pretax profit from operations for Japanese corporations with more than ¥1 billion (US$9.1 million) in capital by 1.7 percent, according to estimates by Daiwa Institute of Research.

``Rising oil prices remain a risk for the market and more costs will batter most companies,'' said Koichi Seki, an equity manager at Chuo Securities Co in Tokyo.

South Korea

The Kospi index lost 0.7 percent to 737.51, taking its decline this week to 0.3 percent. LG.Philips LCD, the world's second-largest maker of liquid crystal displays, slid 5 percent to 32,750 won from the initial public offering (IPO) price, following a US$1 billion initial share sale.

The company slashed the IPO's offer price and cut the number of shares sold after Samsung Electronics Co, the world's top LCD maker, forecast an industry glut and product prices to fall this year.

"It's not looking good for the stock," said Kevin Lee, who manages the equivalent of US$860 million at the Dongwon Investment Trust Management Co in Seoul. "The pessimism may last for some time."

Samsung Electronics lost 1.2 percent this week to 418,000 won. HSBC Securities Asia Ltd and CLSA Ltd cut earnings forecasts for the company on Tuesday.

Chartered Semiconductor, the world's third-biggest provider of made-to-order chips, slid 6 percent, its biggest drop in three months, to S$1.09. It slumped 12 percent this week.

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