Originally created 06/18/04

Tokyo stocks end lower, dollar slightly down against yen



TOKYO -- Tokyo stocks slipped Thursday after a big advance in the previous session. The U.S. dollar was nearly flat against the Japanese yen.

The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 stocks finished down 33.82 points, or 0.29 percent, at 11,607.90. On Tuesday, the index added 254.02 points, or 2.23 percent - its first uptick in four sessions.

The dollar was quoted at 109.64 yen by late afternoon Thursday, down 0.01 yen from late Tuesday but above the 110.09 yen it bought in New York.

In stock trading, technology issues Hitachi and Sony lost ground, but NEC and Fujitsu rose. Banks UFJ and Mizuho fell as did tire maker Bridgestone, which was among more than 10 companies to be raided by authorities Thursday over possible bid-rigging for military contracts.

The broader index of all issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section was down 0.31, or 0.03 percent, to 1,166.78. The index closed up 15.79 points, or 1.37 percent, on Wednesday.

In currencies, traders mainly focused on global interest rate differences.

"The yen seems to be strengthening against currencies of countries that are less likely to raise interest rates ahead," said Satoshi Tate, senior currency trader at UFJ Bank.

The euro fell to $1.2039 late Thursday in Tokyo from $1.2138 late Wednesday. Against the yen, the euro fell to 131.92 yen from 133.08 yen.

In the bond market, Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond yield surged to 1.9000 percent from 1.8750 late Wednesday. Its price fell 0.20 point to 97.48.

Long-term bond yields - a bellwether for interest rates - have risen in recent sessions, reflecting speculation that Japan's central bank may hike its short-term interest rate target in the coming months, as more signs emerge of a steady recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

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