Japan Stocks Rally, With Earnings In Focus; MUFG Up, Panasonic Down

Japanese stocks made solid gains in early Wednesday trade, and while a good lead from U.S. markets and a weaker yen (dollar buying �117.65 vs. �117.33 at previous stock close) helped support the market, earnings results were the main story. The Nikkei Stock Average rose 1.4%, and the Topix added 1.3%, with Japan's largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. up 2.9% after posting a strong profit gain on the back of a softer yen and good returns on some of its investments. Capcom Co. surged 7.3% after reporting lower sales but a roughly 10% gain in net profit, while shares of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. improved by 2.3% after its earnings report. However, stock in Sharp Corp. dropped 3.3%, cutting into its more-than-5% rally the previous day, as the company posted a swing to a net loss and said it also expected to be in the red for the full fiscal year. Likewise, Panasonic Corp. fell 0.7% as quarterly profit came in below the year-earlier level. After the market close Wednesday, both Sony Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. were due to report, with Sony shares up 1.5% in the early going, while Toyota rose 1.2%. Beyond earnings, Toshiba Corp. rose 1.5% as a Nikkei news report said the company was completely withdrawing from the television-production business, while stock in Japan Airlines Co. and ANA Holdings Inc. fell 1.9% and 0.9%, respectively, as energy prices rebounded overnight.

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