Around the World's Markets: Tokyo

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FADING FINANCIAL shares and the strong yen dragged Japanese stocks to a sharply lower close. The Nikkei-225 lost 240.25 points or 1.33 per cent to close at 17,855.16.

"Bank shares kept falling as companies were trying to lock in profits to pad their books ahead of the mid-year book closing," said one trader. Financial shares also suffered profit-taking.

Traders said that part of the fall was due to the strong yen weighing down export-oriented blue chip industrials.