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Nikkei average decreases 0.4%

JAPAN'S Nikkei average dipped 0.4 percent last Friday, with Canon Inc and other exporters hurt by a stronger yen, but falls were limited by continued optimism that economic fundamentals are improving.

Analysts said markets were not moved by the Bank of Japan's upgrading its assessment of the economy or a newspaper report about General Motor Corp's possible bankruptcy filing, as these had largely been factored in.

Canon fell 1.9 percent to 3,170 yen (US$33.44) and Sony Corp slipped 2 percent to 2,450 yen. Toyota Motor Corp retreated 2.2 percent to 3,570 yen.

"The only trading factor in Japan for now is a stronger yen. Worries about the financial system in Japan are not as grave as those in the United States," said Masaru Hamasaki, a senior strategist at Toyota Asset Management.

"The market has already neared a ceiling, though, based on hopes the economy will improve in the second half of this year as economic steps will likely start having an impact. Until that really happens and the economy improves even further, the ceiling will probably stay around 9,500 for a while."

In light trade, the benchmark Nikkei ended down 38.34 points at 9,225.81 after briefly turning positive.

On the week, it inched down 0.4 percent.

The broader Topix slipped 0.6 percent to 875.88 points to end the week.

The US dollar fell as low as 93.86 yen on trading platform EBS, its lowest since mid-March, but was later trading around 94 yen. A stronger yen eats into exporters' profits when they are repatriated.

The US dollar fell as worries about US debt levels grew after Standard & Poor's warned that there was a one in three chance the United Kingdom could lose its precious triple-A credit rating because of the danger government debt may soar near to 100 percent of GDP.

"We're seeing some consolidation after the markets rose a bit too fast. What's been happening this week globally is that markets have gotten a bit of a reality check on the state of the overall economy," said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments.



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