Japan’s top five steelmakers will not pay dividends for the first half of fiscal 2000 as they continue to face a difficult business climate, according to consolidated earnings projections for the April to September period released Friday.

But for the full year, they forecast better earnings than the last business year as they expect the economy to continue recovering modestly led by private-sector capital investment.

Nippon Steel Corp. forecast consolidated sales of 1.25 trillion yen and a pretax profit of 25 billion yen for the fiscal first half, both unchanged from the previous projection in May.

But the biggest Japanese steelmaker anticipates a net loss of 18 billion yen due to extraordinary losses resulting in part from a suspension of some production facilities and changes in accounting standards for employees’ retirement benefits.

NKK Corp. has revised its consolidated pretax profit estimate upward to 5 billion yen from 2 billion yen for the first half. Kobe Steel Ltd. and Kawasaki Steel Corp. have also revised upward their consolidated pretax profit projections to 17 billion yen and 25 billion yen, respectively, from 5 billion yen and 20 billion yen.

Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. expects a consolidated pretax profit of 2 billion yen for the first half, unchanged from the previous forecast.

For all of fiscal 2000, Nippon Steel projects its pretax profit at 105 billion yen, NKK at 0 billion yen, Kawasaki Steel at 55 billion yen, Kobe Steel at 45 billion yen and Sumitomo Metal at 20 billion yen.

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