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Dollar Closes Higher Against Yen; Japanese Stocks Mixed

February 4, 1988

TOKYO (AP) _ Figures released today showing a trade deficit for Japan in the first 20 days of January boosted the U.S. dollar in the final minutes of trading in Tokyo. Japanese share prices were mixed.

The dollar opened at 128.20 yen, up 0.32 yen from its close on Wednesday, and remained steady in quiet trading until just before the end of the day’s session. A late surge pushed it to 128.60 yen at the close, up 0.72 yen from Wednesday’s finish.

The surge followed a Finance Ministry announcement that Japan had posted a preliminary trade deficit of $517.9 million in the first 20 days of the year, compared to a surplus of $990.8 million a year earlier.

After the official close of trading, the dollar was being quoted higher, at 128.85 yen, Masaharu Takenaka of the Bank of Tokyo said.

During trading hours, the dollar ranged between 128.10 yen and 128.65 yen, with spot volume of $4.5 billion.

On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the 225-share Nikkei Stock Average, which lost 80.66 points on Wednesday, gained 113.73 points, or 0.5 percent, in light to moderate trading, closing at 23,709.10.

But advancing issues only slightly exceeded decliners by 500 to 415, with 126 issues unchanged.

Traders said the moderately higher dollar helped boost some prices but that most gains were a result of bargain hunting for small-capital issues.

A cut by the Bank of Japan in its one-month and three-month bill discount rates announced today had little impact on the currency market, traders said. Interest rates for the bills were reduced by 0.0625 percentage point to 3.6875 percent and 3.8125 percent respectively.

Nobutaka Kunieda of Mitsui Bank’s treasury division said the move had been largely expected and reflected the central bank’s willingness to allow seasonal declines in short-term interest rates.

Another trader said the U.S. Treasury refunding now in progress also was no longer affecting the market.

The dollar’s higher opening in Tokyo followed gains in European markets resulting from rumors of a nuclear plant accident in the Soviet Union, traders said. The rumors were false and the Soviet Union denied them, but they nevertheless sent jitters through European money markets.

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