Japan Stocks Close Barely Changed
TOKYO (AP) _ The dollar rose slightly against the yen today amid anxiety about the outcome of an election within the governing party to choose Japan’s next prime minister. Tokyo stocks closed little changed.
The dollar bought 139.48 yen in late afternoon, up 0.53 yen from 138.95 yen late Friday in Tokyo and also above its late New York rate of 138.88 yen Monday.
Financial markets in Tokyo were closed Monday for a national holiday.
The dollar gained on concerns in the market that Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi might win the vote Friday for a successor to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Obuchi, who heads the governing Liberal Democratic Party’s biggest faction, is running against Health Minister Junichiro Koizumi and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama.
``What they’ve been talking about is all the same, but Obuchi doesn’t have the vitality to lead,″ said Takashi Nakauchi, foreign exchange manager at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi Ltd.
Hashimoto announced last week that he would resign to take responsibility for his Liberal Democratic Party’s trouncing in July 12 elections for the upper house of Parliament. The party retains control of the government because it has a majority in the more powerful lower house.
In Tokyo trading today, the dollar ranged between 138.85 yen and 139.55 yen.
On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 14.09 points, or 0.09 percent, closing at 16,556.69. On Friday, the Nikkei had lost 161.14 points, or 0.97 percent.
``The market isn’t too happy with the possibility of an Obuchi victory,″ said Akira Nakamura, a manager at Chuo Securities Co.
Other traders said market players were holding back until the leadership contest Friday.
``Investors want to see the outcome of the race for prime minister,″ said Setsuo Nagao, a manager at the stock trading division of Tokyo Securities Co.
The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section declined 0.78 points, or 0.06 percent, to 1,277.17. It had slipped 2.78 points, or 0.22 percent, Friday.
Some foreign investors bought shares of leading companies such as Sony Corp. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., traders said.
Sony stock surged 1.83 percent, closing at 13,390 yen ($96.21), after hitting an all time high of 13,490 yen ($96.92) in early trading.
An estimated 363 million shares traded hands on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, down from 398 million Friday. Declines led advances 597 to 515, with 157 issues closing unchanged.
Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark No. 182 10-year Japanese government bond fell to 1.415 percent from Friday’s finish of 1.425 percent, driving its price up to 110.30 yen from 110.23 yen.