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Tokyo Exchange to Keep Shorter Sessions

January 23, 2006|From Associated Press

TOKYO — The Tokyo Stock Exchange said Sunday that it would immediately boost trading capacity but would keep shortened trading sessions after a flood of orders forced it to curtail trading Wednesday.

Meanwhile, share prices in Japan and most other major Asian markets were down more than 1% early today as last week's sell-off resumed.

News that Tokyo-based Internet firm Livedoor Co. was under investigation on suspicion of violating securities laws led to a wave of stock sales in Japan early last week, forcing the Tokyo exchange to halt trading 20 minutes early Wednesday -- the first time it stopped trading for capacity reasons since it moved to a fully computerized trading system in 1999.

After successful system tests over the weekend, the exchange -- the world's second-biggest -- said it could now handle as many as 5 million transactions daily.

But the exchange said it would continue to shorten its afternoon session by 30 minutes, and that, to be safe, it would shut down if the number of trades hit 4.5 million, up from a 4-million limit last week.

Top government officials have roundly criticized the exchange for its blunders and urged it to improve its operations to win back investor confidence for the sake of the nation's economy.

Some fear that the market's troubles could also drive away investors just as they are returning to Japan amid signs of a long-awaited economic recovery.

In the aftermath of Wall Street's dive on Friday, most Asian stock markets fell early today. Tokyo's Nikkei-225 index was down about 1.5% at midday to 15,469. Through Friday the index had fallen 4.6% from the five-year high of 16,454 reached Jan. 13.

The South Korean market's main index was off 1.8% early today, Hong Kong's index was down 1.2% and the Taiwan market was off 1.5%.

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