Around the World's Markets: Tokyo

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PRICES RECOVERED from early declines, helped by continuing small inflows of foreign investment funds, but the Nikkei 225 still ended the last day of the financial year down 22.53 points at 15,836.59, and down 4.2 per cent over the year.

Most banks edged higher in late trading and construction shares rallied thanks to increased debt relief from bankers, which offset a gloomy outlook for earnings. Oil refinery shares were up on recent oil price rises, but telecoms were hit by profit-taking after earlier gains based on takeover hopes.