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Japan says trade talks with U.S. to resume on Monday, gaps remain

By Krista Hughes and Kaori Kaneko WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - Talks between the United States and Japan seen as vital to a broader regional trade pact had narrowed to a few critical areas and will resume again on Monday, officials of both countries said on Friday, as negotiators struggle to bridge gaps ahead of a summit between the countries' leaders.

Tokyo investors to eye China, US, Japan data next week

Tokyo investors will be watching the release of a string of data from the United States, China and Japan next week, after the benchmark Nikkei 225 index scratched back some of last week's big losses. Among the figures in focus are US durable goods orders for March and HSBC's April manufacturing purchasing managers' index for China, both due Wednesday Investors will also be keeping an eye on Japanese trade for March at the start of the week and inflation figures on Friday to see if there has been any early impact in prices from this month's sales tax hike.

U.S. company sounds out Mitsubishi Heavy on export of missile part

A major U.S. defense equipment company has asked Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to export a component used in ground-to-air missiles, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Friday, in what could become the first major shipment of defense equipment after Japan relaxed its arms embargo. "If Mitsubishi Heavy Industries applies for an export permit, we will decide whether to allow (the export) based on the three principles on the transfer of defense equipment," Onodera told reporters.

Japan, U.S. trade talks in stalemate, ministers to meet again: Japan

By Krista Hughes and Kaori Kaneko WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S.-Japan talks aimed at a trade deal seen as vital to a broader regional pact are in stalemate, Japan's economy minister said, as negotiators struggle to narrow gaps ahead of a summit between the countries' leaders. A U.S.-Japan agreement is critical to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation grouping that would stretch from Asia to Latin America. The TPP is central to U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of expanding America's presence in Asia.

Tokyo stocks close flat after previous day's surge

Tokyo stocks closed flat Thursday, a day after the Nikkei 225 index posted its sharpest rise in two months, while analysts said there were lingering concerns about the impact of this month's sales tax rise in Japan. The benchmark Nikkei -- which soared 3.01 percent on Wednesday -- edged down 0.15 points to 14,417.53, while the Topix index of all first-section shares also closed flat, inching up 0.04 points to close at 1,166.59.

Dollar lower in Asia after upbeat data, Beige Book

The dollar drifted lower in Asia Thursday as upbeat US data and dovish comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen suggested the central bank would hold steady on the pace of its stimulus tapering. In Tokyo afternoon trade, the greenback slipped to 102.02 yen from 102.25 yen in New York on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.3837 from $1.3815, while it weakened to 141.17 yen from 141.28 yen.

Gov't downgrades basic view of economy for 1st time in 17 months

The government on Thursday downgraded its basic assessment of Japan's economy for the first time in 17 months in its monthly report for April, citing weakening consumption after the consumption tax hike earlier this month. The world's third-largest economy is "on a moderate recovery trend," but "some weak movements are seen lately" after the end of last-minute buying prior to the April 1 consumption tax hike, the Cabinet Office said in its latest monthly economic report, downgrading the view on private consumption for the first time in seven months.

Gov't cuts basic view of economy for 1st time in 17 months

The government on Thursday downgraded its basic assessment of Japan's economy for the first time in 17 months in its monthly report for April, citing weakening consumer spending after the consumption tax hike earlier this month. The Japanese economy is "on a moderate recovery trend," but "some weak movements are seen lately" after the end of last-minute buying prior to the first tax increase in 17 years, the Cabinet Office said in its latest monthly economic report, downgrading the view on private consumption for the first time in seven months.

Dollar lower in Asia after upbeat data, Beige Book

The dollar drifted lower in Asia Thursday as upbeat US data and dovish comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen suggested the central bank would hold steady on the pace of its stimulus tapering. In Tokyo midday trade, the greenback slipped to 101.99 yen from 102.25 yen in New York on Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.3841 from $1.3815, while it weakened to 141.16 yen from 141.28 yen.

Honda's new ASIMO robot, more human-like than ever

It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. "Hello New York! Thank you for coming today!" the little guy chirped in English, the recorded voice of a teenaged boy, at his US debut Wednesday in a Manhattan hotel. Resembling a tiny astronaut, ASIMO -- decked out in a white suit and helmet -- stands 4 feet three inches (1.3 meters) tall and weighs in at 110 lbs (50 kg).
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