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Japanese Stocks Little Changed

January 8, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ Tokyo stock prices closed little changed Thursday as profit-taking and uncertainty over the government’s plans for the economy eroded earlier gains. The dollar declined against the yen.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 8.99 points, or 0.06 percent, closing at 15,019.18. On Wednesday, the average had gained 131.77 points, or 0.88 percent.

Many stock investors moved to lock in the moderate gains over the past two days as they awaited the opening of the 1998 session of Parliament next Monday to see what steps the government will take to stimulate the sluggish economy, traders said.

The Nikkei’s retreat also resulted from worries that continued weakness in neighboring markets and economies could hurt Japanese companies with business interests in the region, they added.

In early trading, the Nikkei had surged almost 4 percent on speculation that Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s administration might introduce new economic stimulus measures, traders said.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section lost 0.59 point, or 0.05 percent, to 1,163.20. It had climbed 3.14 points, or 0.27 percent, Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the dollar bought 132.40 yen in midafternoon, down 0.72 yen from late Wednesday in Tokyo but also above its late New York level of 131.25 yen.

After climbing above 134 yen early this week, the dollar has fallen back on worries that Japan’s central bank might intervene in the market to support the yen.

Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark No. 182 10-year Japanese government bond rose to 1.600 percent from 1.580 percent Wednesday, driving its price down to 109.58 yen from 109.73.

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