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Individuals' stock trading share to top 30% for 1st time in 13 yrs.

TOKYO, Dec. 28 Kyodo

Widespread use of the Internet for stock trading has lured more individuals to the market, making it likely they will account for more than 30 percent of total stock trading in value on Japan's three major exchanges in 2004 for the first time since 1991, according to data made available this year.

In the first 11 months of this year, individual investors captured a 31 percent share of all transactions on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Osaka Securities Exchange and the Nagoya Stock Exchange.

Individuals have been active participants in stock trading as brokerage houses have been encouraging them to open accounts for Internet-based trading.

The number of accounts opened at five leading online brokerages, such as Matsui Securities Co., E*Trade Securities Co. and Rakuten Securities Inc., totaled some 1.5 million at the end of November, an increase of nearly 500,000 from the end of last year.

Although individuals have been net sellers since August, their active participation, along with nonresident investors who account for more than 50 percent of the total value of stock trading, have contributed to brisk trading this year, brokerage officials say.

The share of stock trading by individuals via securities houses began to decline in 1992 along with Japan's economic downturn. In 1998 when Japan was caught in financial unrest, the ratio fell to 13.5 percent of all transactions in value.

The ratio rose close to 30 percent in 1999 when brokerage commissions were liberalized but fell below 20 percent in 2001 due to a deterioration in economic activity.

Trading will be closed for the year on Thursday.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Dec 29, 2004
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