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Stocks

Japan's retail investors fade into market background

Foreigners, trust banks pick up slack as individuals prune share to new lows

TOKYO -- Japanese retail investors slumped to a record-low share among domestic stocks last fiscal year as a rally spurred contrarians to sell and efforts to promote individual stock ownership foundered.

Individuals owned 17.1% of Japanese shares on a value basis at the end of March, down 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier, according to data from the four big stock exchanges released Tuesday. This is the lowest figure since such records began in fiscal 1970. The value of retail investors' shareholdings rose 9.6% on the year to 99.46 trillion yen ($892 billion at current rates), slower growth than the roughly 12% increase for all outstanding shares.

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