Japanese Stocks Dip 0.52% in Thin Holiday Trading : Investments: With most other markets closed, Tokyo slips 91.81 on expected news of lower factory production.

From Times Wire Services

Stock, bond, currency and commodity markets in the United States and most of the world were closed Friday in observance of Christmas Day. But markets were open in Japan, where lackluster trading on both the stock and currency markets pushed share prices down and the Japanese yen slightly higher against the dollar.

The 225-issue Nikkei stock average closed at 17,557.04 points, down 91.81 points, or 0.52%, from Thursday's close at 17,648.85 points.

The Tokyo stock price index of all issues listed on the first section, which gained 0.30 points, or 0.02%, on Thursday, closed at 1,341.82 points, down 8.34 points or 0.62%.

Volume on the first section slipped to 180 million shares, down from 231.26 million Thursday. Retreating issues outnumbered advancing issues 586 to 337, while 213 were unchanged.

The Nikkei moved in a tight range of less than 150 points in a sluggish day of trading, as foreign investors were largely absent for the Christmas holiday.

A batch of government data released today that underlined perceptions of an ailing economy also helped dampen trading.

The government said production at factories and mines fell a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in November from October, and retail sales fell 3.2% in November from a year earlier.

"It wasn't surprising, so people didn't react," said Osamu Yasaka, a Nikko Securities Co. official.

On the foreign exchange, the dollar closed at 123.65 yen, down 0.02 yen from Thursday's close at 123.67 yen.

After opening at 123.85 yen, it stayed in a tight range from 123.65 yen to 123.95 yen in a day of thin, directionless trading.

Spot transactions fell to an extremely light $934 million, down from $2.392 billion Thursday.

The price of the benchmark No. 145 10-year Japanese government bonds rose to 106.29 points from Thursday's 106.08-point finish. Their yield fell to 4.530% from 4.560%.

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