Originally created 03/31/04

Tokyo stocks close marginally lower, dollar up against yen



TOKYO -- Tokyo stocks slipped Tuesday as investors sold shares in banks and other sectors that have posted gains recently amid rising optimism about Japan's economy. The U.S. dollar rose against the Japanese yen.

The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 issues closed down 24.56 points, or 0.21 percent, at 11,693.68. On Monday, the index fell 52.41 points, or 0.45 percent.

The U.S. dollar was trading at 105.77 yen by late afternoon Tuesday, up 0.13 yen from late Monday and also above the 105.47 yen it bought in New York. The U.S. currency fluctuated between 105.40 yen and 105.87 yen during Tokyo trading Tuesday.

On the stock market, prices rose in early trading but fell back as investors sold shares to book profits ahead of the last day of the Japanese fiscal year on March 31. Banks, property companies and other sectors that rely heavily on domestic earnings led the retreat after pacing gains in recent sessions.

"The Nikkei turned lower as banks extended falls, like yesterday," said Masayoshi Okamoto, a trader at Jujiya Securities.

Losers included Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mitsubishi Estate and Mitsui Fudosan.

The broader index of all issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section slipped 3.66 points, or 0.31 percent, to 1,175.51. The index rose 2.85 points, or 0.24 percent, on Monday.

Trading was subdued, with an estimated 1.300 billion shares changing hands, down from 1.466 billion Monday and the lowest volume since Feb. 26.

Falling stocks outnumbered gainers 862 to 563, while 129 issues ended flat from Monday.

In currencies, the dollar gained back ground against the yen in lackluster trading after hitting a four-month low against the Japanese currency overnight in New York. Speculation Japan's monetary authorities remain eager to resist a further slide by the dollar supported the U.S. currency.

A weaker dollar means Japanese exporters earn fewer yen from their sales in the United States, something the Japanese government wants to avoid as it tries to revive the world's second-largest economy.

The euro rose to $1.2202 late Tuesday in Tokyo, from $1.2093 Monday. Against the yen, the European currency was quoted at 128.90 yen, up from 127.76 yen.

The yield on Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond fell to 1.4450 percent from 1.4900 percent late Monday. Its price rose 0.30 to 98.65 points.

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Tokyo Stock Exchange: http://www.tse.or.jp