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Dollar Dips, Stocks Up in Tokyo Trading

From Times Wire Services

The dollar finished lower against the Japanese yen, while share prices rose on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in slow trading Monday as most of the world’s other markets were closed for Christmas holidays.

The dollar closed at 124.72 yen, down 0.23 yen from Friday’s close of 124.95 yen. After opening higher at 124.85 yen, the currency edged down, ranging between 124.63 yen and 124.90 yen.

Little Activity in Market

Dealers said market players were reluctant to make major moves without knowing trends overseas.

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“There was hardly any activity in the market,” said a dealer with Mitsubishi Bank in Tokyo.

On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, gains by heavily weighted bank stocks helped push the Nikkei average higher, but the market mood remained dull ahead of the year-end holiday, brokers said.

“There is a lot of activity in the financial sector,” said Ross Rowbury, a broker at Sanyo Securities. “But overall the market is themeless, volume low and generally people are very inactive.”

The 225-share Nikkei index gained 181.65 points, or 0.61%, to close at 29,868.01. Turnover was a thin 600 million shares against 350 million in Saturday’s half-day trading, when it rose a negligible 0.10 point.

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Much of the concentration of activity in financials stemmed from brokers’ desires to push the index above 30,000 and set a record ahead of the new year, brokers said.

Market to Close Until Jan. 4

Brokers said the stock market remains concerned about the possibility of a U.S. discount rate increase, although such worries have faded somewhat recently.

Such expectations mean the dollar’s sharp fall early this year in a thin year-end market will not likely be repeated next year, said Hiroyuki Nakazawa, chief customer dealer at Taiyo Kobe Bank.

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Another dealer with a major securities firm in Tokyo said trading remained inactive in the afternoon as a majority of institutional investors remained on the sidelines.

It was mostly individual investors’ buy orders for steel, shipbuilding and financial issues that boosted the Nikkei index, he said.

Gold bullion was $418.50 an ounce in late afternoon Tokyo trading, little changed from New York’s Friday close.

After a full-day session today and a half-day session Wednesday, the stock market is to close until Jan. 4 for the New Year holidays.

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A dealer at Daiwa Securities said many investors were trying to avoid holding many issues ahead of the holidays, mainly because of uncertainty about Emperor Hirohito’s condition.

The 87-year-old emperor has been bedridden with internal hemorrhaging since mid-September, and his death would lead to a further closing of the stock market.


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