Asia Top News and Analysis Japan

  • SEOUL, Oct 7- South Korea believes the won will be in an "extraordinarily" balanced state for a considerable period and is determined not to intervene to weaken it to boost exports, top policymakers told Reuters.

  • *Long-sought agreement to be announced Sunday in Seoul. WASHINGTON, Oct 5- The United States and South Korea are set to announce this weekend a joint response to the perceived threat from North Korea's growing ballistic missile force, according to a State Department notice to U.S. lawmakers on Friday.

  • TOKYO, Oct 6- Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co is asking Sharp Corp to turn the Japanese company's small and mid-sized liquid crystal display panel business into a joint venture between the two, Yomiuri newspaper reported on Saturday.

  • With a looming election keeping Japan from making a decision on how much, if any, of its nuclear reactor fleet it will keep, and slowing growth in China weighing on the broader resource sector, it will likely be months before uranium prices start moving back toward pre-Fukushima levels.

  • NO CHANGES: Japan's central bank held the line on its key interest rate and its asset purchasing program at a policy meeting Friday, resisting government pressure for further easing. He and other government officials have voiced frustration over the failure of policies to end Japan's protracted bout of deflation which are a drag on economic growth.

  • NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina, Oct 5- R epresentatives from Air India took delivery on Friday of the first Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner made in South Carolina and the first manufactured outside Boeing Commercial Airplane's headquarters in Washington state.

  • BUENOS AIRES, Argentina-- South American engineers are trying to tackle one of the continent's greatest natural challenges: the towering Andes mountain chain that creates a costly physical barrier for nations ever-more-dependent on trade with Asia.

  • KERNERSVILLE, N.C.-- A partnership between two behemoth builders of excavating machinery said Friday it plans to add 340 jobs at a North Carolina plant in return for incentives of more than $5 million while promising salaries below the local average.

  • LONDON, Oct 5- Asian spot prices of liquefied natural gas lost more ground this week as weaker import demand across key winter delivery periods forced some producers to sell distressed cargoes at knockdown prices.

  • LONDON, Oct 5- Aurubis, Europe's biggest copper smelter, will offer 2013 copper cathode term premiums for its European customers at $86 a tonne, unchanged from levels set in June this year, a spokeswoman for the company said on Friday.

  • Oct 5- Fitch Ratings has downgraded the ratings of Hewlett-Packard Company. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Electronic Data Systems LLC as follows:. --HP's weaker-than-expected free cash flow forecast of approximately $4 billion post dividends in fiscal 2013 compared with Fitch's expectations for $5 billion- $6 billion.

  • has placed a bid for German rival MAG Group, in a sign that Chinese appetite for European knowhow remains high, two people close to the transaction said on Friday. A spokesman for MAG Group said that the company was now in negotiations with potential buyers. " Goldman Sachs has been mandated to look for a buyer for MAG Group, which comprises Europe and MAG Americas.

  • *Zynga shares slide after warning, Facebook slips. Labor Department data showed the jobless rate dropped by 0.3 percentage point in September to 7.8 percent, its lowest since January 2009, even as Americans came back into the labor force to resume the hunt for work.

  • Eight of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose, led by a 1.1 percent gain for materials stocks. "We're in rally mode, so slightly positive numbers will do nothing to hinder that," said Ralph Fogel, investment strategist and partner at Fogel Neale Partners in New York. The Labor Department also said employers added 114,000 jobs to their payrolls last month.

  • LONDON, Oct 5- Insurance prices barely rose in the three months to September as abundant supplies of capital allowed insurers to compete aggressively even after paying out near-record natural disaster claims last year.

  • *Rome store held up for 7 years so far by paperwork. MILAN, Oct 5- Ikea's plan to open a third store in Rome have been wrapped up in red tape for seven years with the Swedish furniture multinational joining a queue of willing investors beginning to lose patience with Italian bureaucracy.

  • *Zynga shares slide after warning, Facebook slips. *Sprint could counterbid on PCS- sources. NEW YORK, Oct 5- U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with the S&P 500 up for a fifth straight day and set to close at its highest since 2007, after government data showed a surprise drop in the unemployment rate.

  • VIENNA, Oct 5- Uncertainty over a controversial merger is expected to delay an auction for Austria's fourth-generation telecoms frequencies until next September, potentially leaving the pioneer in mobile technology among the last European countries to have faster networks.

  • In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.7 percent at 5,871 while Germany's DAX rose 1.2 percent to 7,397. The CAC-40 in France was 1.6 percent higher at 3,457.. The benchmark New York rate was $2.41 lower at $89.31 a barrel.

  • PRAGUE-- Czech state-run power utility CEZ says it has rejected a bid by France's state-owned nuclear engineering giant Areva SA to build two more nuclear reactors at the Temelin nuclear plant. CEZ says Areva's bid has not met necessary criteria to run for the contract, estimated to be worth more than $10 billion.