Japan Stocks Gain Modestly; Mizuho Down On Reported RBS Deal

Japanese stocks returned to their winning ways Thursday, with the Nikkei Average up 0.3% after a 0.1% dip in the previous session. The Topix added a more modest 0.1%. With a neutral lead from Wall Street and little change for the yen (dollar at �118.86 vs. �118.83 at the previous close), the techs were mixed, as Casio Computer Co. added 2.2%, and TDK Corp. rose 1.5% as the Nikkei reported it planned to add to production capacity in Japan to take advantage of the forex environment. But Sony Corp. eased 0.3%, Hitachi Ltd. lost 1.1%, and Canon Inc. pulled back by 0.4%. Softbank Corp. improved by 1.8% after Alibaba Group Holding Inc. , in which SoftBank is a major investor, also gained 1.8% in U.S. trade Wednesday. Yahoo Japan Corp. added 2.2% after parent Yahoo Inc. advanced 2.4% in New York. A rebound in crude oil, meanwhile, helped boost Inpex Corp. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (up 2.4% each), while a drop for iron-ore prices appeared to support the steel mills (JFE Holdings Inc. up 2.1%, Kobe Steel Ltd. up 1.8%). Among the financials, Mizuho Financial Group Inc. eased 0.1% lower as a Nikkei report said the megabank was set to purchase Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC's North American unit for "several hundred billion yen" (or several billion U.S. dollars). Larger rival Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. added 0.3%, with a separate Nikkei report saying employees at the company's main banking unit were looking for a 2% pay raise this year, compared to a requested 1.5% hike by the unions at Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (SMFG shares were up 0.1%).

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