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Sydney, Jan 27, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Asian markets were broadly weaker yesterday, with the battered Japanese Nikkei losing almost 1 per cent to close at 7682.1 points. A number of major markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Singapore are closed for Lunar New Year holiday.

Analysts anticipate the Nikkei Stock Average will tumble to around 6,000 within the next three months as major firms will be expected to downgrade their earnings forecasts during the reporting season for October-December quarter results.

Asia Economy Watch

Some members of the Bank of Japan policy board said an interest rate of 0.1 percent could be the lowest level to maintain the functioning of the money market, minutes of its Dec. 18-19 board meeting showed on Tuesday. But one member said the central bank should not rule out the possibility of cutting rates further, the minutes showed.

Indian economy may slow down to record a 6.8% growth in the current financial year, according to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI has lowered its earlier growth projection of 7.7% for 2008-09, citing slower pace of economic activity, in the backdrop of recession in US, Europe and Japan.

Company News

It is reported that Snow Brand Milk Products(TYO:2262), Japan's No. 3 dairy products firm, and fourth-ranked Nippon Milk Community Co. are in the final stage of talks on business integration.

Honda Motor Co(TYO:7267) said it planned to increase production capacity in China by 23 percent as it expects solid demand there for its fuel-efficient vehicles. The Nikkei business daily said Honda plans to have a total output capacity of 650,000 vehicles a year by modifying existing lines at its Dongfeng Honda Automobile unit in China.

Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502) plans to postpone the construction of two new domestic flash memory plants by a year or more, as chip demand sharply declines, Japan public broadcaster NHK reported Tuesday.

Samsung Electronics Co.(SEO:005930) has launched an all-out restructuring effort that is shaking up the head office and top-down corporate culture of the South Korean giant. On Jan. 23, Samsung announced that it lost 940 billion won in the October-December period, the first quarterly red ink since such data began to be released.

Bunge(NYSE:BG), the global agri-commodity powerhouse, has initiated talks with India's GMR Industries(BOM:500162) to pick up a "strategic stake" in the company. If a deal materialises, Bunge could end up achieving its stated objective of getting into sugar manufacturing.

Sources have said that American International Group Inc. (NYSE:AIG) has received bids from sovereign wealth funds in Singapore, China and the Middle East for its aircraft-leasing unit. Bidders include Singapore's Temasek Holdings, Dubai's investment arm Istithmar World, Kuwait Investment Authority and China Investment Corp., the sources said.


Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344

Related Companies

Toshiba Corporation       
Snow Brand Milk Products Co., Ltd.      
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd       
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.        
GMR Industries Limited      
Bunge Limited      
American International Group, Inc.       

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