TOKYO -- The Japanese market came back to life after a three-day break as equities rocked back and forth between positive and negative territory all day.
Although various rumors about mergers and the "Love Bug" computer virus lifted selected tech and software shares, most investors stayed on the sidelines. On the minds of most was the U.S.
meeting next week. Locally, with the earnings rush in full force over the next three weeks, many investors were waiting for further numbers before taking big positions.
index fell 239.40 points, or 1.3%, to 18,199.96, while the
index, which includes all shares listed on the
Tokyo Stock Exchange's
first section, shed 6.06 to 1696.52. The
small-cap index climbed 0.79 to 103.76, while the Nikkei
index rose 32.39, or 1.6%, to 2118.92.
There's still a lot of hope that mutual fund managers will start buying, but traders said large-lot purchases would probably not emerge until June. That's when the fiscal 1999 earnings rush will cease, and investors will have put behind the Fed's likely 50 basis point interest rate hike next week.
jumped 40,000 yen, or 2.8%, to 1.46 million after the firm announced its unit, NTT Communications, would buy a 90% stake in U.S. Web site manager
for $5.5 billion.
climbed 20,000 to 3.86 million as the market talked up the possibility that the mobile phone unit may merge with Holland's
, now that merger talks between KPN and Spain's
have broken down.
With the Love Bug and other computer viruses still roaming the globe, shares of anti-virus software-makers such as
gained ground. The former jumped 2000, or 11.7%, to 19,100, while the latter gained 100, or 18.2%, to 650.
Daiwa Institute of Research
cut the firm's rating to B from A. DIR questioned whether Sony could match the market's profit expectations.
With more and more investors wary of an intervention by the European Central Bank to support the euro, Europe's single currency gained against both the dollar and the yen. This led the greenback to inch higher against the yen to around 108.75 yen.
index lost 367.64 points, or 2.4%, to 14,901.00 as investors shed rate-sensitive shares such as
, down HK$1.50, or 1.8%, to 84.25, and its subsidiary
Hang Seng Bank
, down 1.75, or 2.5%, to 67.50. Any rate hike in the U.S. usually pushes up Hong Kong's rates as well, since the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar.
fell 2.25, or 3.9%, to 56.00, after the shares had risen early in the session. The market initially calculated that the company would have lower operating costs following an agreement with its parent,
China Mobile Communications,
on interprovincial connections, but a wave of profit-taking swept through to punch prices down late in the day.
index rose 18.95, or 2.5%, to 770.24 as foreign investors bought shares across the board. The
Ministry of Finance and Economy
said it would allow foreign companies to list on the OTC, or
, market in June. Currently, foreign companies can only list shares and depository receipts on the main
Korean Stock Exchange