Tokyo stocks up Thursday, US$ down against yen

  • Business
  • Thursday, 18 Mar 2004

TOKYO (AP) - Tokyo stocks rose Thursday amid hopes for a Japanese economic recovery.  

Market speculation that the Finance Ministry might relax its aggressive currency market interventions prompted the U.S. dollar to fall against the Japanese yen. 

The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 issues climbed 47.42 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 11,484.28. 

On Wednesday, the index rose 194.57 points, or 1.73 percent. 

The dollar bought 107.14 yen at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT) Thursday, down 1.13 yen from late Wednesday in Tokyo and below the 108.16 yen it bought in New York later that day. 

On the stock market, supermarket chain Ito-Yokado and department store Isetan were among the gainers, as were major banks such as UFJ and Sumitomo-Mitsui Banking.  

Real estate companies and those whose fortunes are tied to the domestic economy fueled the rise amid ongoing hopes for a Japanese recovery. 

Automakers Honda and Toyota - both major exporters - declined amid worries the stronger yen would dent their earnings, however. 

A stronger yen makes exporters' products less competitive overseas and reduces their repatriated profits. 

The index of all issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section gained 4.00 points, or 0.35 percent, to 1,145.71. 

The TOPIX advanced 20.75 points, or 1.85 percent, the day before. 

In New York on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 115.63, or 1.1 percent, to 10,300.30. 

In currency trade, the dollar continued to lose ground amid market speculation that Japan's Finance Ministry would stop buying dollars as aggressively to support the greenback and prevent the yen from rising. 

Peter Morgan, and economist at HSBC in Tokyo, said that Japanese authorities have yet to intervene on a large scale this week despite the dollar's sharp fall against the yen, which "suggests that there is a good chance that the authorities will return to a policy of simply 'smoothing' the yen's rise, rather than stamping it out entirely.'' 

The dollar fell as far as 106.73 yen Thursday - its lowest level since Feb. 19 - before it recovered.  

The yen's climb against the dollar also helped it strengthen against the euro. 

The common European currency rose to US$1.2284 from US$1.2222 late Wednesday in Tokyo. 

Against the yen, the euro was quoted at 131.52 yen, down from 132.18 yen. 

The yield on Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond rose to 1.3300 percent from 1.3100 late Wednesday. Its price fell 0.18 to 99.73. - AP

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