Originally created 03/10/99

High tech stocks lead Japanese stock rally



TOKYO -- Japanese stock prices rallied today, as Sony Corp. and other high technology issues helped push the Nikkei closing stock average above 15,000 points for the first time since November. The dollar slipped against the yen.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 317.65 points, or 2.15 percent, to 15,096.70 points by the close of the afternoon session. On Monday, the average slid 114.95 points, or 0.77 percent.

It was the first time the Nikkei finished above 15,000 since Nov. 27.

The dollar bought 121.76 yen, down 0.02 yen from late Monday in Tokyo but slightly above its late New York level of 121.66 yen. The dollar ranged between 120.65 yen and 122.02 yen.

High tech stocks rose after an increase in the U.S. market Monday and Sony's announcement of a major restructuring plan.

"The rise in the high technology sector, one of the leading industries in Japan, brightened the overall market," said Masatoshi Sato, manager of the investment information group at Kankaku Securities.

Sony soared 8.8 percent after the company said it would turn three of its listed units into wholly-owned subsidiaries by January and slash its work force by 10 percent by 2003.

The units were Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Chemicals and Sony Precision Technology.

Traders lauded the deal as a sign that the influential industry leader is bringing its Playstation and other highly profitable businesses directly under the wing of the parent company.

Among other high-technology shares, Toshiba jumped 5.1 percent, NEC advanced 3.7 percent and Hitachi climbed 5.3 percent.

Traders said the stock market remains strongly supported by continued foreign buying, as well as the recent fall in long-term interest rates and the yen. Long-term interest rates have been helped by the Bank of Japan's decision to ease monetary policy.

Advancing issues beat declines 646 to 522, while 142 were unchanged. Volume on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange was estimated at 594.84 million shares, down from 649.37 million shares Monday.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section rose 14.76 points, or 1.29 percent, to 1,162.51 points. The TOPIX closed up 1.03 points, or 0.09 percent, on Monday.

In currency dealings, the dollar dropped amid heavy selling by Japanese exporters.

The dollar briefly broke above 122 yen early in the session, but dollar-long Japanese exporters and institutional investors saw that as the signal to resume their recent position liquidations and as a chance to take profits.

In other currencies, the euro was traded at 132.28 yen, up from 132.09 yen late Monday in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark No. 203 10-year Japanese government bond rose to 1.700 percent from Monday's finish of 1.625 percent, driving its price down to 100.80 yen from 101.41 yen.