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Astellas, Elpida, Komatsu, Sony, Toyota Motor: Japanese Stocks

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 19.43, or 0.2 percent, to 8785.33 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo. The following are among the most active shares in the Japanese market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.

Astellas Pharma Inc. (4503 JT), gained 3.2 percent to 3,110 yen. Jefferies & Co Inc. said Astellas remains the top pick in the Japanese pharmaceutical sector for 2012, citing the possible approval for multiple drugs this year and limited risk for patent expiry or erosion by generics for mainstay products.

Daiei Inc. (8263 JT), a supermarket chain, rose 1.1 percent to 278 yen. The company targets paying its first dividend in 16 years, President Michio Kuwahara said in an interview.

Elpida Memory Inc. (6665 JT), a chipmaker, rose 4.6 percent to 367 yen. The company is in final talks with Micron Technology Inc. and Nanya Technology Corp. for a three-way merger, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

Inpex Corp. (1605 JT), an oil and natural gas explorer, advanced 2.2 percent to 517,000 yen. Crude oil futures on the NYMEX rose 1.1 percent yesterday after the European Union agreed to ban crude imports from Iran, raising concern about supply disruptions from the Middle East.

Komatsu Ltd. (6301 JT), Japan’s largest construction machinery maker, gained 1 percent to 2,113 yen. The company canceled 15.6 million of its shares, or 1.6 percent of the total, according to a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Nippon Steel Corp. (5401 JT) lost 3 percent to 197 yen. J.P Morgan Securities lowered its price target to 240 from 250 yen, saying earnings will probably be pressured by deteriorating profits on exports and domestic general-purpose products.

Seiko Epson Corp. (6724 JT), an electric device maker, fell 1.5 percent to 975 yen. Daiwa Securities Capital Markets cut its investment rating to “neutral” from “outperform,” saying full-year operating profit will miss the company’s forecast.

Sony Corp. (6758 JT) fell 2.4 percent to 1,388 yen. The company offered to take as much as a 30 percent stake in Olympus Corp. (7733 JT) as part of a business alliance proposal, the Nikkei newspaper reported, without citing anyone.

Suzuki Motor Corp. (7269 JT) rose 2.4 percent to 1,685 yen. The chief financial officer of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., a subsidiary of Suzuki, said the worst is over and new cars and increased supply of diesel engines would help boost sales next year. Maruti Suzuki reported a 64 percent drop in net income for the three months ended December compared with a year earlier.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (4502 JT), Asia’s biggest drug maker, advanced 1.7 percent to 3,300 yen. The company won U.S. approval to administer its cancer medicine Velcade under the skin, a form of injection that causes fewer patients to experience the drug’s side effects, according to a statement.

Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. (5423 JT), an electric furnace steelmaker, jumped 4.2 percent to 596 yen. The company maintained its steel material prices in February, according to the company’s website.

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203 JT) gained 2.7 percent to 2,793 yen. The Australian subsidiary of Asia’s largest carmaker will cut 350 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Victoria after production fell 21 percent in 2011.

Yurtec Corp. (1934 JT), a construction company, rose 3.3 percent to 413 yen. The company raised its full-year net-income forecast 18 percent to 2 billion yen. The unit of Tohoku Electric Power Co. (8506 JT) cited the rise in revenue due to post-quake projects for the improved outlook.

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