Nikkei Falls, Dollar Up Moderately
TOKYO (AP) _ Prices fell in light trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, and the dollar rose moderately against the yen.
The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 selected issues, which gained 182.92 points Thursday, lost 409.28 points, or 1.38 percent, closing the week at 29,213.92.
Trading was thin, with 320 million shares changing hands on the market’s first section, down from Thursday’s 430 million shares.
″Volume was extremely small. The index came down on small-lot selling amid a wait-and-see mood, rather than in active buying and selling,″ said a dealer with Nippon Kangyo Kakumaru Securities who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The dealer said many market participants retreated to the sidelines to watch movements in the foreign exchange and bond markets.
Yoshihide Koyama, an equity analyst with Nikko Securites, also attributed the decline in the Nikkei index to investor worries over speculation that Japan’s central bank may raise its official discount rate once again in an attempt to halt the yen’s recent decline.
A Bank of Japan official refused to comment on the speculation.
On March 20 the bank raised its key rate, charged on loans to commercial banks, by 1 percentage point to 5.25 percent. Higher interest rates tend to support a country’s currency but discourage stock investment.
On the foreign exchange market, the dollar ended the week at 158.42 yen, up 0.42 yen from Thursday’s close of 158.00 yen. After opening at 158.27 yen, the currency ranged between 158.22 yen and 158.48 yen.
Currency dealers said trading was quiet throughout the day as most overseas markets were closed for the Good Friday holiday.
Kouhei Kuroda, a dealer with Fuji Bank, said the dollar stayed in a very narrow range because of the small number of market players and no major market-related news.
On the bond market, the price of benchmark No. 119 Japanese government bonds closed at 85.90 points, down from Thursday’s close of 86.30. Their yield rose to 7.380 percent from the previous day’s 7.295 percent.