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Tokyo Stocks Fall in Early Trading

May 6, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ The U.S. dollar dropped against the yen early Wednesday amid speculation of a change in the stance of U.S. treasury officials toward the Japanese currency. Japanese stock prices fell following an overnight decline on Wall Street.

The dollar bought 131.76 yen in early trading, down 1.26 yen from late Friday in Tokyo but above its late New York rate of 131.44 yen overnight Tuesday.

Financial markets in Japan were closed Monday and Tuesday for national holidays.

The dollar moved lower after U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin failed to repeat previous statements that the United States prefers a strong dollar.

In an interview with CNBC television, Rubin said Tuesday Japan should not depend on a weak yen to help it out of its economic problems, but he did not reiterate comments in favor of a stronger dollar.

Traders said the remark showed sympathy for Japan’s efforts to buoy up the yen.

On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, share prices started lower as sentiment was dampened by a 45.09-point fall in the Dow Jones industrial average on Tuesday and also an overnight weakening by futures prices in Chicago.

The benchmark Nikkei Stock Average of 225 selected issues shed 286.81 points, or 1.84 percent, to 15,314.29 points in the first 30 minutes of trading. On Friday, the average fell 40.16 points, or 0.26 percent.

The Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section was down 12.58 points, or 1.03 percent, to 1,205.12. The TOPIX closed down 5.28 points, or 0.43 percent, on Friday.

Sentiment also soured after the Tokyo Stock Exchange suspended trading Wednesday of Mitsui Wharf Co., a medium-size Japanese port-harbor transport company, so investors can confirm reports that it has dishonored its bills twice.

Meanwhile, the benchmark No. 182 10-year Japanese government bond fell to 1.420 percent from 1.460 percent, driving its price up to 110.53 yen from Friday’s finish of 110.43 yen.

Update hourly