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Matsushita to Grow Plasma Output by Nearly Half

Matsushita Electric Industrial-- which produces Panasonic-brand products--plans to increase its capacity to produce plasma panels by 44 percent next summer in response to increased global demand for flat-screen sets.

The Japanese manufacturer's monthly capacity for 42-inch Panasonics will jump to about 425,000 units (from 295,000), as the company starts new production lines at its Amagasaki complex near Osaka four months ahead of schedule next July, according to Matsushita.

Matsushita and other makers generally expect a healthy demand for large-screen plasma and LCD sets to continue long after the current holiday season, the U.S. Super Bowl and this winter's Olympics in Torino, with international sporting events like the World Cup next spring and the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Matsushita's share of the plasma TV market rose to just under 30 percent in the 3Q of 2005, according to industry researcher DisplaySearch. The company said it also would raise production levels at its Shanghai factory in China to 25,000 panels a month (from 20,000).