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Nikkei briefly tops 16,000 in morning on bargain-hunting.

TOKYO, March 9 Kyodo

Tokyo stocks rose sharply Thursday morning, with the key Nikkei index briefly entering the 16,000 level for the first time in a week on bargain-hunting.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 347.90 points, or 2.23 percent, to end the morning at 15,975.39, after scoring a morning high of 16,002.32.

The Tokyo Stock Price Index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange gained 26.26 points, or 1.64 percent, to 1,631.84.

The Tokyo stock market got off to a firm start and continued advancing almost throughout the morning session.

Brokers said a wide range of issues attracted buying from bargain-hunters following two straight days of decline in the Tokyo market.

However, despite the sharp rises in the key stock indexes, trading remained thin ahead of the outcome of the Bank of Japan's policy-setting meeting due out later in the day.

Market attention is focused on the BOJ meeting, which could result in an end to the central bank's five-year-old ultra-loose monetary policy, brokers said.

Kenichi Azuma, an equity strategist at Cosmo Securities Co., said the stock market has already priced in an end to the current monetary policy and investors are now waiting to see what the central bank's subsequent measures will be.

Advancing issues swamped declining ones 1,488 to 142, with 60 shares ending the morning unchanged.

Softbank was the most heavily traded issue by value. It rose 120 yen to 3,180 yen.

Nippon Steel was the morning's volume leader, and gained 5 yen to 463 yen.

Canon drew selling after saying Wednesday that it and Toshiba will delay the release of a jointly developed surface-conduction electron-emitter display television, or SED TV, until the October-December period of 2007 from the originally planned release date this spring.

Canon, strong in the high-tech camera and printing equipment industries but a novice in the TV field, dropped 30 yen to 7,270 yen. Toshiba, however, gained 8 yen to 635 yen.

Trading volume on the TSE's main section came to 909.62 million shares, against Wednesday morning's 840.19 million shares.

The TSE's Second Section index rose 42.27 points, or 0.89 percent, to 4,783.99 on a volume of 52.89 million shares. In Osaka, the near-term March Nikkei 225 index futures contract rose 300 points to 15,980.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 13, 2006
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