TOKYO -- It's a little early to call today's surge in Japanese Internet shares a comeback for the sector, but things were certainly looking more upbeat than they have in several weeks.

After falling nearly 75% from its mid-February high, shares in Net incubator

Softbank

climbed 6.5% Thursday, thanks to its unit

Yahoo! Japan's

more than 400% rise in pretax profits for the year ending March 31. The turnaround in Softbank shares helped many of the small-cap Net plays reverse course as well, and contributed to a rise in the

Jasdaq

small-cap index of 10%.

The key

Nikkei 225

index fell 127.30 to 18,959.32, while the

Topix

index, which includes all shares listed on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange's

first section, rose 9.18 to 1629.00. The Jasdaq small-cap index soared 7.59, or 10.1%, to 82.89, while the Nikkei

over-the-counter

index climbed 106.98, or 6.3%, to 1796.58.

The market remained slightly under pressure as portfolio managers sold off the outgoing 30 stocks from the Nikkei 225 index, ahead of Monday's index reshuffle. However, with a surge in Internet plays today and the launch of five new mutual funds between today and Friday, the market was upbeat.

The clincher for the jovial attitude was definitely Softbank, traders said. Since Yahoo! Japan posted its huge earnings increase investors have scrambled back into Softbank, which rose 3000 yen to 49,300. Yahoo! Japan climbed 5 million, or 15.7%, to 36.95 million.

Cybermall

Rakuten

, which had a slightly shaky debut on the OTC market Wednesday, jumped 10 million, or 33.3%, to 40 million yen. After the close yesterday, the firm said pretax profits for the January-March quarter were 202 million yen, up 32 million yen from a year ago.

Canon

(CANNY)

rose 500, or 12.2%, to 4610 after the firm announced its pretax profits for the January-March quarter rose 68% to 75 billion yen.

NTT DoCoMo

, Japan's leading mobile phone company, has hit a snag since the I-mode Net service on its mobile phones keeps running into server problems. The

Nihon Keizai Shimbun

said that DoCoMo may curb sales of its I-mode phones for about a month as it tries to figure out how to deal with its repeated failures, which it suspects are due to a surge in users. The stock fell 210,000, or 6%, to 3.49 million.

A positive outlook for the Japanese economy and stock market pushed the greenback down slightly to around 104.82 yen, currency dealers said.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index edged down 60.06 to 15,367.14, as investors closed out positions before the four-day holiday that starts Friday.

Legend

(LGHLY)

fell HK$0.35, or 3.9%, to 8.75 after

Merrill Lynch

said it rates the firm as neutral. The broker said Legend's entry into China's portal business will likely lead to some losses in the coming year.

There was rampant talk that Australia's

News Corp

(NWS) - Get Report

, which holds a stake in

TSC

, was eyeing a bid for

Cable & Wireless HKT

(HKT)

, in hopes that the recent market volatility may ruin

Pacific Century CyberWorks'

pending takeover of HKT. PCCW fell 0.10 to 13.65, while HKT lost 0.10 to 17.10.

Korea's

Kospi

index climbed 6.17 to 761.25, while Taiwan's

TWSE

index rose 4.65 to 9109.05.