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Tokyo stocks fall 5 percent

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Tokyo stocks falls 5%, all eyes on Sony results
Reuters, 10.23.03, 1:45 AM ET

Updates to mid-afternoon)

TOKYO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Tokyo's Nikkei average fell more than five percent by mid-afternoon on Thursday -- on track for its biggest percentage fall since the September 11 attacks -- after Wall Street's biggest drop in a month and a rise in the yen, with jitters ahead of Sony Corp's results also a factor.

As of 0523 GMT, the Nikkei average <.N225> was down 4.75 percent at 10,372.76, breaking below 10,500 yen for the first time since October 9.

The broad-based TOPIX index <.TOPX> fell 4.76 percent to 1022.68, with heavy losses across a range of sectors.

Nissan Motor <7201.T> and other exporters dropped as the dollar fell to around 109 yen, close to three-year lows.

One analyst thought the fall brought share prices down to more realistic levels.

"This is what the recently overheated Japanese and U.S. stock markets needed," said Mitsugu Kanno, general manager in the equity information department at Shinko Securities. "Pricewise, the Tokyo market appears to have come down to appropriate levels" to reflect fair values.

NEC Electronics <6723.T>, Japan's third-largest chip maker, and online brokerage Matsui Securities <8628.T> fell even though both reported robust earnings on Wednesday.

NEC Electronics fell 8.75 percent to 8,030 yen while Matsui Securities plunged 12.2 percent to 2,520 yen, after both on Tuesday marked their all-time highs of 9,780 yen and 3,570 yen respectively.

All eyes are now on Sony's earnings.

Sony is expected to announce a big fall in quarterly profit after the close of trade. Market players will be looking for clues about demand in the October-December quarter, which accounts for about a third of Sony's annual revenues and the greater part of its operating profit.

Kanno of Shinko Securities said he would closely watch Sony's assumed dollar/yen exchange rate for the six months to March 31 after the recent rise in the yen and its impact on Sony's forecasts.

The world's largest electronics maker has assumed a full-year rate of 115 yen per dollar. It was at 109.30 on Thursday.

Sony's shares were down 4.8 percent at 3,970.

Ahead of its results, NEC Corp <6701.T> fell 4.94 percent to 885 yen.

Among very few bright spots was Seiko Epson Corp <6724.T>, a maker of ink-jet printers and electronic parts, which was unchanged at 3,750 yen after rising as high as 3,810 earlier.

The company on Wednesday raised its profit outlook for the second time in less than a month.

Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service

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