Japanese market rises sharply for 2nd straight day


TOKYO -- The Japanese stock market rebounded sharply yesterday for a second straight day, following the government's announcement earlier this week of emergency measures aimed at stabilizing the nation's battered financial system.

Many economists and analysts continued to express skepticism about the government plan, which is intended to stop big financial institutions from selling shares and to make it easier for banks to shed their burden of bad loans.

But the sudden jump in stock prices brought a sense of relief after weeks of severe declines.

The 225-stock Nikkei index was up almost 900 points at one point yesterday, then gave some ground to close up 617.02, or 4.2 percent, at 15,267.76.

The index had risen 2.38 percent Wednesday, the day after the Finance Ministry announced the rescue package. The market is still down about 60 percent since hitting its peak at the end of 1989.

The Nikkei rose further in early trading today. About 10 minutes after the market opened, the index was up 235.05, or 1.54 percent, at 15,502.81.

"What the market has realized is that yes, indeed, the government is serious about getting its boot under the financial system to stop it from melting down," said Alan Bell, deputy head of research in Tokyo at Baring Securities. "But we're still lacking anything that will move the economy or improve corporate profits.

"We don't think this is the stuff of a sustained market rally," he added.

Trading volume improved to 300 million shares yesterday from just a little more than 200 million shares Wednesday, but that was still a modest figure by historical standards.

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