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TOKYO -- What a way to end the week. Japanese shares tumbled on Friday after retail investors continued to shed large-cap technology shares, seeking to cut losses after buying these stocks at a premium six months ago.

In addition, major banks were unwinding cross-shareholdings in various blue-chips and tech shares, which contributed to the

Nikkei 225's

lowest closing level in 16 months.

The Nikkei 225 index shed 343.44, or 2.1%, to close at 15,838.57, while the


index, which includes all shares listed on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange's

first section, lost 24.90, or 1.7%, to close at 1452.93. The


small-cap index fell 2.14, or 2.8%, to 73.59, while the Nikkei


index lost 30.82, or 1.9%, to 1586.36.

Over the course of about a year, the unwinding of cross-shareholdings has hit bank shares pretty hard, as the former cozy relationships between Japan's conglomerate groups known as


started to fall apart. However, city banks are now doing the bulk of the selling in many major blue-chips, traders said, which is likely to last until the end of August, or before the fiscal first-half ends on Sept. 30.

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Investors who had bought tech shares on margin at the top of the year are also selling in earnest.


(SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report

lost 180 yen, or 1.7%, to close at 10,180 ($93.54), while


fell 1110, or 10.8%, to 9150. Softbank has said it may pull out from buying the nationalized

Nippon Credit Bank

following the government's decision to delay the sale by a month due to a political scuffle over the terms in the already-signed deal.



lost 1410, or 4.9%, to close at 27,400 after Finland's


(NOK) - Get Nokia Oyj Report

issued a profit warning overnight. Nokia is one of Rohm's biggest customers.


lost 90,000, or 3.1%, to 2.84 million despite news that its popular I-mode Net service will likely have 17 million customers by the end of the year, far above the previous target of 10 million.

Despite a sluggish stock market, a wave of option-related dollar-selling pulled the greenback slightly lower against the yen to around 108.83.

Dragged down by the weak performance of the Nikkei and domestic telecom stocks, Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index fell 266.16, or 1.5%, to close at 17,183.93. Index heavyweight

China Mobile

(CHL) - Get China Mobile Ltd. Report

shed HK$1.50, or 2.3%, to 64.25 ($8.24), while

Hutchison Whampoa


lost 2.50, or 2.2%, to 111.00.

Despite the expectation of healthy first-half earnings results from



on Monday, shares fell 1.00, or 1.0%, to 104.00.

SK Telecom

(SKM) - Get SK Telecom Co. Ltd. Report

fell KW41,000, or 12.8%, to 279,000 due to selling by foreign investors. The key


index lost 35.03, or 4.8%, to 692.65.

Taiwan managed to buck the trend, with the


index gaining 165.83, or 2.1%, to 8122.11.