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Japan Stocks Fall in Early Trading

February 21, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ The U.S. dollar inched down against the yen Monday morning in quiet trading because of a market holiday in the United States. Japanese stocks fell.

The dollar bought 110.65 yen at late morning, down 0.09 from late Friday in Tokyo and also below its late New York level of 110.96 yen on Friday.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 162.85 points, or 0.82 percent, to 19,626.18 at the end of the morning session. On Friday, the average closed down 2.37 points, or 0.01 percent.

In currency dealings, the dollar traded in a narrow range in Asian trading Monday morning partly because U.S. financial markets were to be closed Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

The dollar slightly reversed its recent course.

Over the past few weeks, the dollar has been moving higher against the yen, thanks to favorable prospects for U.S. economic growth coupled with low inflation and slightly higher interest rates _ all positive factors for the greenback.

Meanwhile, the yen has been vulnerable to selling pressure after American ratings agency Moody’s Investors Services said last week it would review Japan’s local currency debt rating for possible downgrade.

In other currencies, the euro was traded at 109.20 yen, down from 109.42 yen late Friday in Tokyo.

On the stock market, the Nikkei average moved lower on investor concerns the U.S. economy could slow with future interest rate hikes. A weaker U.S. economy would hurt Japanese companies that sell products there.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 295.05 points, or 2.8 percent, to close at 10,219.52 at Friday’s close.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section was down 26.67 points, or 1.55 percent, to 1,693.10. The TOPIX closed up 2.66 points, or 0.15 percent, on Friday.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond fell to 1.8000 percent from Friday’s finish of 1.8200 percent. Its price rose 0.17 point to 99.14.

(km-dj)

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