P.M. BRIEFING : Nikkei Plunges 197 Pts.; Dollar Up

From Times wire services

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's leading stock index today plunged from Monday's record high, and the dollar gained sharply against the Japanese yen.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 197.00 points, or 0.61%, closing at 31,980.08. That was its first closing below the 32,000-yen level since Feb. 14, when it ended at 31,982.89. It had set a record high closing of 32,177.08 on Monday. The plunge in the index resulted mainly from the dollar's quick rise on the foreign exchange market, said an analyst with Nomura Securities, Japan's largest brokerage. He also said prospects for a tighter economic policy in the United States, possibly leading to higher interest rates, discouraged investors from buying stock while awaiting congressional testimony by U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan later today.

In currency dealings, the dollar closed at 127.15 yen, up 1.40 yen from Monday's 125.75-yen finish. The dollar strengthened in late-morning European trading today.

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