Skip to main content

TOKYO -- Japan ended the week bruised but not badly beaten, as high-tech shares continued to be sold while investors increasingly favored blue-chips that had been neglected for quite some time. Hong Kong managed to reverse its 13% loss totaled in the past 3 sessions, buoyed by bank stocks and mainland Chinese shares.

The benchmark

Nikkei 225

stock index was up 25.14 at 18,193.41, while the


index, composed of shares traded on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange's

first section, closed down 10.58 at 1599.01. The


small-cap index fell 1.94, or 2.1%, to 89.70, while the Nikkei over-the-counter shares closed down 28.76, or 1.3%, at 2134.96.

Although computer-related shares got hit once again, the market was much calmer after the bloodbath seen two days ago.

"We saw some good buying today so the market has started to feel a bit more comfortable even amid a tech-sector slump," said Masatoshi Sato, equities strategist at

Kankaku Securities

. "If we see tech stocks decline further over the next few weeks, it just makes them that much cheaper."

Sales were concentrated in


Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends


, which slid 2000, or 7.8%, to 23,700 and

Murata Manufacturing

, down 2000, or 9.8%, to 18,500. Investors took to heart comments from


(SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report

President Nobuyuki Idei, who said Thursday the company's shares were overvalued and should trade around 20,000. Sony slid 2000, or 7.8%, to 23,700.

Small-caps also saw the brunt of the selling, with


sliding 5000, or 6.1%, to 76,600 and

Trend Micro


down 1500, or 7.3%, to 19,000. Buying was seen in OTC shares such as


, up 400, or 18.4%, to 2570, while


zipped up 24, or by 37%, to 89.

Investors are loving blue-chips, as some traders start to call pharmaceuticals and the paper and pulp industry a haven from the computer sector.



was up 365, or 16.3%, to 2610;

Japan Paperboard Industries

climbed 14, or 6.5%, to 229; and

Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical

closed up 390, or 9.5%, at 4510.

The greenback nestled around 105.30 yen after nearing a seven-week high earlier. Previously, any yen weakening invited Japanese exporters and European investors to step in, but since these investors have yet to show their faces, some currency traders are now starting to talk about a near-term target of 106.50 and then 110.

"Although many U.S. hedge funds got out of Japan late last year, those still holding long positions had to cover losses this week, which explains why the yen is hitting 105 yen against the dollar," said one trader from a large U.S. firm. "Some of our customers are now talking about buying more euros, or European equities, instead of Japan. That means the dollar will be supported at the expense of the yen, but this is only for the short run."

Tokyo financial markets will be closed Monday for a national holiday.

Hong Kong Bounces Back a Bit

Meanwhile, traders in Hong Kong were relieved to see some of the 13% loss culled over the past three sessions erased as the

Hang Seng

index gained 252.40, or 1.7%, to 15,405.63. Although fear of an interest-rate rise in the U.S. and at home still hovers, traders bought back banking shares in anticipation of good earnings results.

HSBC Holdings


closed up 3.000, or 3.1%, at 100.500, while

Bank of East Asia


rose 1.050, or 5.7%, to 19.450.

Investors are targeting mainland Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong on vague talk that China will loosen much of its stringent financial regulations in the months to come.

China Resources


hiked up by 0.450, or 3.6%, to 12.950, while

Cosco Pacific

closed up 0.450, or 7.32%, at 6.600.


Straits Times

index closed up 46.83, or 2%, at 2406.04, while Korea and Taiwan fell. The


index lost 12.14, or 1.3%, to 948.65, while the


index ended 76.56 points lower at 8845.47.