Asia Top News and Analysis Japan

  • Remember the collapse of the Russian ruble in 1998--that led to the near-collapse of hedge fund giant Long Term Capital Management? Recent trends in the Japanese yen have investors worried that the currency is destined for a similar fate as befell the ruble.

  • Nissan Motor  reported a bigger-than-expected 23% fall in quarterly net profit on Friday, hurt by a sluggish recovery in U.S. sales, and lowered its full-year forecasts despite a weaker yen.

  • Japanese electronics giant Sony reported a drop in quarterly profit Tuesday, but boosted its earnings outlook for the full year.

  • Wal-Mart Stores' Japanese subsidiary, Seiyu, on Tuesday forecast a wider net loss for 2006 due to sluggish sales, making it its fifth straight year of losses. Seiyu estimated its group net loss at 55.8 billion yen ($459 million) instead of its earlier projection of a 54.5 billion yen loss for the year ended December. The new forecast is in line with a consensus projection by four analysts for 55.6 billion yen, according to Reuters Estimates.

  • Japan's household spending fell more than expected and the jobless rate rose slightly in December, underlining sluggishness in consumption and raising the hurdle for the Bank of Japan to lift interest rates next month.

  • Japanese consumer prices rose less than expected in December from a year ago, adding to doubts over the Bank of Japan's ability to raise interest rates next month, sending the yen lower and bond futures to a one-month high.

  • Japan's trade surplus rose a weaker-than-expected 22.8% in December from a year earlier amid concerns that a slowdown in the U.S. economy may hurt Japanese exports.

  • "Overall, 52% of CEOs are 'very confident' and 40% 'somewhat confident” about revenue growth over the next year -- more than double the level of 2001."

  • The Tokyo and New York stock exchanges are in the final stages of alliance talks and may come to an agreement as soon as the end of the month, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing the head of the Tokyo exchange.

  • Japan's current account surplus expanded 21.5% from a year earlier in November, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday, highlighting a healthy demand overseas for Japanese exports.

  • The Bank of Japan is likely to keep interest rates on hold this week, although the central bank's policy board has not entirely ruled out a rate rise, according to a report on the Web site of Japan's largest business daily.

  • Machinery orders at Japanese firms rose more than expected in November from October, signaling firm capital spending and reinforcing market expectations that the Bank of Japan could raise rates this week.

  • A sobering assessment of growth prospects in the developed world from Carl Weinberg, High Frequency Economics.

  • Sony's long-awaited PlayStation 3 may have missed its global shipment target and been beaten in its home market by rival Nintendo's surprise hit Wii video game system, new figures show.

  • Japan’s Nikkei Index has had its longest bull run since 1989, ending 2006 up 7%. Unemployment in the country is at an eight-year low, and despite a possible rate hike in the spring Japan is reclaiming its leadership position in the global economy. But is it too late for investors to get a piece of this growing economy? President of Matthews Asian Funds Mark Headley says no.

  • The Nikkei 225 Average  ended 2006 on a high note Friday, booking its fourth consecutive year of growth -- something the Japanese stock market has not seen in nearly two decades.

  • Japanese industrial output rose less than expected in November, data showed Thursday, giving economists little help in gauging whether the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates next month.

  • Roughly $110 billion flowed to the more than 9,200 hedge funds in 2006, according Chicago-based firm Hedge Fund Research. Senior managing director of Channel Capital Group George Lucaci was on “Closing Bell,” explaining which funds made the most money this year. He also highlighted what to look for in 2007.

  • Retail sales in Japan fell unexpectedly in November from a year earlier, underlining the view that consumption remains a weak link in the economic recovery and trimming the chances of an interest rate hike in January.

  • Japanese consumer price growth matched expectations and personal consumption fell less than forecast in November, keeping alive speculation that the Bank of Japan could raise rates as early as next month.