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Distributed: Jan 30, 2009

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Sydney, Jan 30, 2009 (ABN Newswire) - Asian markets generally opened lower on Friday. The markets gained Thursday as the U.S. plans to help troubled banks boosted financial shares. Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index jumped 4.6% on the first trading day after the Lunar New Year holiday. In Tokyo, the Nikkei Stock Average of 225 companies gained 1.8% to 8251.24, bringing its three-day advance to 7.4%. Markets in China, Taiwan and Vietnam remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Asia Economy Watch

Japanese government said on Friday that the key consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in December from a year earlier. Consumer prices in Tokyo are seen as a leading indicator of prices across Japan. Meanwhile, Japan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 4.4 percent in December, up 0.5 of a percentage point from November, the government said.

The central bank governor of South Korea said the nation's economy will likely miss the government's growth target of 3 percent and the central bank's estimate of 2 percent this year as the global financial crisis has hit demand both at home and abroad. The Bank of Korea vows it is also ready to apply more aggressive means in pumping cash into the financial system in case of a deepening credit crunch.

China is determined to keep its currency at a sensible and balanced level and is not to blame for sharp fluctuations in exchange rates, Premier Wen Jiabao said during a trip to Berlin on Thursday.

Company News

Tata Motors'(BOM:500570) plans to roll over its $2-billion bridge loan, contracted to fund its acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover, might turn out to be an expensive affair. Tata Motors has to tie up funds by June to complete the transaction. Bankers say that the company intends to roll over the loan for a year and depending upon the pricing negotiations at that time, it may roll it over for another 12 months.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.(BOM:532500), biggest car maker by sales in India, posted its fourth straight drop in quarterly net profit as vehicle sales fell amid an increase in the cost of raw materials and imported parts.

NEC Electronics Corp. (TYO:6723) reported a deeper loss for its fiscal third quarter and unveiled plans to cut jobs and shut plants on expectations of another unprofitable fiscal year. The company posted a net loss of 19.9 billion yen for the quarter ended December, deeper than a loss of 936 million yen a year earlier.

It is reported that Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502) and NEC Corp. (TYO:6701) have been holding discussions toward integrating semiconductor operations, with a focus on system chips.

Nintendo Co. (TYO:7974) cut its full-year earnings estimate by 33% due in part to the strong yen's impact on overseas sales, while slightly lowering full-year projections for its Wii game console sales because of a slowdown in consumer spending.

Italy's Marcegaglia SpA and South Korea's Dongkuk Steel Mill Co. (SEO:001230) are set to buy an 80% stake in European steelmaker Corus' U.K.-based Teesside Cast Iron Products plant, which is valued at $600 million, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.


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Contact

Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344
Email: michelle.liang@abnnewswire.net

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