Foreign investors were net buyers of Japanese stocks for the third straight week last week.

They bought 298.2 billion yen more than they sold on the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya bourses, up 44 percent over the week-before level of 206.93 billion yen.

While many Japanese institutional investors remained on the sidelines, foreign investors stepped up purchases, banking on high-priced activity fueled by the emergency economic package announced at the start of the week.

Their net purchases were the largest since the 386.5 billion yen set in the third week of January.

Nonresident investors opted for banking and brokerage issues as well as cyclical issues, brokerage officials said.

Among domestic investors, trust banks turned net sellers for the first time in four weeks, with their selling excess at 73.26 billion yen, against net purchases of 30.4 billion yen the previous week.

City banks, long-term credit banks and regional banks as a group remained net sellers for the second week in a row.

Individual investors were net sellers for the third week running.

Although domestic players kept a low profile, international investors vied for market leadership and triggered a strong rally.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s key market gauge turned markedly higher Tuesday.

With the uptrend in share prices gathering momentum, the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average ended the week at 13,383.76, up 384.06 points, or 3 percent, from a week earlier.

Daily volume on the TSE’s first section averaged 915 million shares last week, up from 865 million the previous week.

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