LOS ANGELES – Japanese stocks started lower Thursday, with earnings in focus, along with a Bank of Japan policy decision and economic forecast due later in the day. The Nikkei Stock Average eased 0.2% to 14,467.22, and the Topix was down less than 0.1%, with a negative finish for U.S. shares also weighing on sentiment. Shares of ANA Holdings Inc. tumbled 5.1% after the airline slashed its profit forecast for the current fiscal year, while a larger-than-expected quarterly loss for videogame maker Nintendo Co. sent its stock down 0.6%. Honda Motor Co. also lost ground, falling 1.1%, as its almost 50% rise in quarterly net profit nonetheless missed analysts' expectations, according to Dow Jones Newswires. On the upside, Panasonic Corp. rallied 2.7% after news it has struck a deal to provide more battery cells to U.S. electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc. . On the policy front, the Bank of Japan was expected to keep its asset-buying program unchanged later Thursday but possibly raise its economic growth forecast for the fiscal year beginning next April.
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