Foreign Investment Pushes Nikkei to ’94 High : Markets: Upbeat profit projections also contribute to rise. Canadian nickel producer’s shares drop.

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Tokyo’s Nikkei posted a new 1994 closing high for the second trading day in a row Monday, but most world markets changed little on low volume because of holidays in the United States and Britain.

Tokyo share prices advanced on continued buying by European investors, traders said. One trader said more upbeat corporate profit projections encouraged the market.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average closed at 20,838.97, up 61.81 points, or 0.30%. On Friday, the average gained 281.36 points to 20,777.16.

Meanwhile, the dollar closed at 104.40 yen, down 0.13 yen from Friday’s close. It closed on Friday in New York at 104.28 yen. In Europe, the dollar ended mixed. It rose against the German mark from Friday to 1.6455 marks. Gold hovered near $385 on several markets.


On the Toronto exchange, shares in Inco, the world’s largest nickel producer outside the former Soviet Union, were down as much as 1 to 35 3/5 after news that it reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the union representing 4,900 workers at its Ontario nickel mining and processing operations.

Sinking Inco shares pulled down the Canadian mining group, which was off 39.93 points at 3743.72. Inco fell 1 1/8 to 35 5/8 on 1.16 million shares after averting a strike this past weekend.

Nickel prices are expected to fall back after surging above $3 a pound last week on speculation of a strike.

Before today’s slide, Inco shares had risen steadily by more than 13% since May 12 in anticipation that a strike would bolster nickel prices by reducing supply.


“There had been far too much discounting of the potential to strike in Inco,” said Ben Joyce, chief equities strategist at Burns Fry Ltd.

Among the highlights of other markets:

Italian stocks closed slightly higher today after the new government’s first package of economic legislation, announced late Friday afternoon, was greeted with a ripple of enthusiasm in the market.

The blue-chip Mibtel index rose 64 points to close at 11,696 in trading today after falling about 4% last week. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was elected March 28 with a mandate to reform Italy’s business regulations and pull the economy out of recession.


German shares ended weaker and volume was very light. The DAX index closed 22.84 points down at 2,118.15. French shares ended the session barely changed from Friday’s close. But Swiss shares gained more than 1% on moderate turnover. Firm index futures and low volume due to holidays in Britain and the United States helped to push prices higher, dealers said. The broad SPI closed up 20.89 at a day’s high of 1,801.08.

Mexican stocks closed little changed.

“National investors were sitting on the sidelines,” said Jorge Gonzalez, sub-director of research at CBI Casa de Bolsa SA.

Mexico’s Bolsa index, which has risen 10.95% in peso terms over the past week and a half, rose 0.36 points, or 0.01%, to 2,485.41.