Foreign investors remained net sellers of Japanese stocks for the third straight week last week.

Nonresidents sold 164.62 billion yen more than they bought on the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya stock exchanges, compared with net sales of 335.3 billion yen the previous week, according to industry figures.

Volatility on Wall Street and elsewhere prompted foreign investors to unwind their Japanese portfolios, brokerage officials said.

By contrast, domestic investors stepped up purchases, vying for market leadership.

With the recent uptrend in share prices running out of steam, a broad array of stocks dropped to attractive price levels, prompting both individual and institutional investors to hunt for bargains.

Long-term credit banks, city banks and regional banks as a whole turned net buyers for the first time in 12 weeks, logging 26.2 billion yen in net purchases. This constitutes a marked turnaround from net sales of 32.8 billion yen posted the previous week.

They halted the unwinding of their cross-shareholdings.

Trust banks were net buyers for the fourth consecutive week, reflecting an increased cash flow from pension and other funds.

Individual investors turned net buyers, purchasing 110 billion yen more than they sold in cash trading. They had posted net sales of 19.7 billion yen the previous week.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average ended the week at 12,790.38, down 639.84 points, or 4.8 percent, on the week. The gauge fell below 13,000 for the first time in two months.

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