The balance of stocks sold short continued to fall last week, while that of margin buying edged higher.

The outstanding balance of short sales stood at 1.22 trillion yen, down 66.79 billion yen from a week earlier, according to industry figures.

After hitting a 13-year high of 1.34 trillion yen on March 8, the balance of short margin positions fell for the second straight week.

Tightened controls on short selling have inhibited hedge funds and other investors from building short positions.

Meanwhile, the balance of shares bought on credit rose for a second week.

The balance of long margin positions stood at 1.16 trillion yen, up 71.23 billion yen.

Still, long margin positions failed to overtake short margin positions, keeping the long-short ratio below a one-to-one parity in value.

Specifically, the ratio stood at 0.95, up from 0.85.

In volume terms, however, the ratio rose to 1.57 from 1.49, indicating investors have opted for low- and medium-priced shares.

Shares heavily traded in margin accounts include steel and other cyclical issues sensitive to ups and downs in domestic demand, along with consumer electronic shares and banking issues.

Among them are Nippon Steel, NKK, Nissan Motor, Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mizuho Holdings and UFJ Holdings.

With the recent uptrend in share prices apparently running out of steam, the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average ended the week at 11,345.08, down 302.93 points, or 2.6 percent, from a week before.

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