Shares reshuffle gives Nikkei a welcome boost

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The Independent Online

Shares in Tokyo were boosted yesterday by the inclusion in the Nikkei index of a number of New-Economy shares. It was the first full-scale overhaul of the index since October 1991.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun, which publishes the Nikkei, said it has changed the listing criteria for the benchmark to put more emphasis on liquidity. Among the 30 new companies now included in the total of 225 are Matsushita Communication, Daiichi Pharmaceutical, Casio, Seven-Eleven Japan and a number of banks formerly omitted. On their way out are heavy industrial corporations such as Mitsubishi Steel Manufacturing, Mitsui Mining, Sumitomo Coal Mining Co and Nippon Beet Sugar Manufacturing.

The announcement of the reshuffle on 16 April contributed to heavy selling of shares that were being removed from the index. The Nikkei fell 10 per cent last week. But analysts said the reshuffle should prove positive in the long term as the Nikkei will better reflect trends in Japanese industry.

Buying of the newly included shares contributed to yesterday's gains. Hiroichi Nishi of Nikko Securities said: "The market is normalising after suffering from the reshuffle shock."

He added: "Investors are picking up shares with good business prospects ahead of the announcement of corporate results starting later this week."

There was also interest in high-tech issues such as Softbank and NTT Data yesterday. Sony shares also gained after reports the company might take a 10 per cent stake in Fuji Television.

However, Hikari Tsushin, the internet and mobile phone company, said it would report an operating loss of Yen11.6bn in the year to August, compared to its earlier prediction of a Yen8bn profit. Its shares fell 9.17 per cent to Yen19,800.