29 January 2004, 09:49  Tokyo stocks end lower for fourth straight session

TOKYO, Jan 29 - Japanese stocks fell for the fourth straight session on Thursday as investors sold Sony Corp <6758.T> and other exporters on continued worries about the strong yen and after a tumble in Wall Street shares. Investors were also wary about buying ahead of a flurry of earnings reports due after the close from leading companies such as NEC Corp <6701.T>, Canon Inc <7751.T> and top broker Nomura Holdings Inc <8604.T>. "U.S. stocks are showing signs of having entered a correction phase, and foreign investors are taking profits on recent gainers in Japan to make up for falls in that market," said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi Securities. "At the same time exporters are under continued pressure from the strong yen, which shows no signs at all of going away." The benchmark Nikkei average <.N225> ended down 0.67 percent at 10,779.44 -- its fourth straight fall representing the longest losing streak since August.
The TOPIX index <.TOPX> of all first-section issues slipped 0.76 percent to 1,050.13. Decliners far outnumbered gainers 1,288 to 188. Volume picked up slightly, with 1.13 billion shares changing hands on the first section, up 1.25 percent on the previous session. Shares in Fujitsu Ltd <6702.T> ended down 0.58 percent at 684 yen. Just before the close the electronics conglomerate posted its first net profit in three quarters, helped by strong demand for flat-panel TVs and other digital consumer goods. "The worst is probably over for Fujitsu. This is a fairly solid result but, like Sony's results, it's no great surprise and won't likely do much for Fujitsu's shares," said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments. Sony slid 1.39 percent to 4,260 yen on profit-taking after the company's shares had gained around 15 percent this year to date in the run-up to its quarterly earnings. After the close on Wednesday, the consumer electronics maker posted better-than-expected third-quarter results and raised its net profit forecast for the year by 10 percent thanks to the strong euro, which pushes up yen-denominated profits. After the close, Canon Inc <7751.T> said its net profit rose 45 percent in 2003 thanks to healthy demand for office copiers and booming sales of digital cameras and it forecast a fifth straight record profit for 2004. Its shares ended up 0.18 percent at 5,550 yen.///

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