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THE STOCK MARKET hit its highest close of the year as foreigners and domestic institutions drove up blue chips. The Nikkei 225 average finished up 0.98 per cent at 17,782.79.

Traders said worse-than-expected industrial production figures for May had limited impact. "We are seeing large-scale buying from foreigners on a magnitude that we haven't seen for some time," said Masahide Mitani, manager of equities at Marusan Securities Co.