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Gulf War Fears Push Stocks Lower in Tokyo

From Times Wire Services

Stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed lower today as Persian Gulf war fears paralyzed investors on the year’s first full day of trading.

The blue-chip Nikkei average of 225 selected shares, the market’s chief measure, dropped 332.61 points to 23,736.57. The Nikkei rose 220 points in a half-day session Friday.

The broader-based Tokyo Stock Exchange Price Index of all major shares, which gained 7.09 points Friday, fell 17 points to 1,723.92.

Volume was extraordinarily low as only 170 million shares changed hands, compared to 330 million shares in the last full trading session on Dec. 27. Today’s volume was the thinnest since Jan. 20, 1986.

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Investors were uncertain as they digested the bellicose words of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who spoke over the weekend of “the mother of all wars,” and President Bush’s unyielding response.

In addition, investors were stunned by the leap of the dollar, which jumped nearly 3 full yen against the Japanese currency.


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