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Japanese Central Bank Leaves Economic Outlook Unchanged - 2003-04-11

The Bank of Japan left its economic assessment for April unchanged for the sixth straight month, even though private capital spending is starting to recover. The central bank expects little significant growth in the Japanese economy for now, because of no signs of strong increases in either domestic or export demand.

The bank says the outlook for world economic growth is clouded now because of the effects of the war in Iraq and the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The bank announced that is considering the unusual step of buying asset-backed securities. It says that might encourage private investment, especially for small and medium size companies.

Japanese game maker Nintendo lowered its earnings forecast, in part because of weak demand for its GameCube consoles. The company has slashed its full-year earning forecast to about $550 million for the year that ended March 31.

The maker of such games as Super Mario and Pokemon had previously expected a profit of $660 million. But sales of GameCube consoles declined 44 percent and did not hit the company's target of 10 million units in the fiscal year that ended last month.

Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa said the company's game lineup failed to drive console sales. "These are very good titles indeed, quality software and good sellers too. And having seen the success of other titles, like Pokemon, and the hit titles on the market, these games were perhaps somewhat too difficult or complicated, especially for novice game players," he said.

Some analysts say Nintendo's games do not appeal to adults, the growth sector for the industry in North America and Europe.

In the automobile sector, Toyota plans to produce more models in China as part of its agreement with that country's biggest vehicle maker.

Under the deal, Japan's largest automaker and China's FAW Group will produce four Toyota models, including the popular Crown luxury sedan and the Corolla sub-compact.

The plan will help Toyota, seen as a latecomer in China, boost its presence in the world's fastest growing car market. Both companies agreed last year to build and sell up to 400,000 cars in China a year by 2010.