UPDATE 2-Honda forecasts small annual profit as costs cut
* Q4 operating loss 283 bln yen vs consensus 331 bln yen loss
* Honda profit f'cast contrasts with market expecting loss
* Expects 8.7 pct global sales fall, cutting capex by third
* Sees signs of U.S. auto demand bottoming
* Shares end down 2.4 pct before results (Adds executive comment, detail)
By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent
TOKYO, April 28 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Cotización), Japan's No.2 automaker, forecast a small profit for the current year as it cuts costs to counter plunging car sales and a strong yen, surprising analysts who were expecting its first annual loss.
Car markers everywhere are being hammered by an acute downturn in demand brought on by the worst financial crisis in generations that has some rivals fighting for their very survival.
Honda has been relatively shielded by its manufacturing flexibility, line-up of fuel-sipping cars and its motorcycle business -- the world's biggest -- but it is still burdened by a huge stockpile of unsold cars, especially in Europe. Continuación...