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Bank of Japan shares hit upper limit for fourth session, nearly doubling this week

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past the headquarters of Bank of Japan amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Shares in the Bank of Japan, one of only a handful of central banks that are publicly listed, hit their upper limit for a fourth straight session in Tokyo on Thursday, taking their gain for the week to 93%.

The perplexing surge to the highest since mid-2018 for the stock in Japan’s monetary authority is being seen by some analysts as a sign of an excess of cash in the market searching for a home, comparing it to the surge in cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Thursday’s rally came even as the Nikkei 225 slumped more than 2%, dragging the stock index to a small loss for the week.

“Investors are looking for anything that will rise,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

“The BOJ became a target because the trading volume is so low, so it’s easy to swing the shares.”

The Japanese government owns 55% of the BOJ’s outstanding shares, which are traded on the JASDAQ bourse for small firms. The BOJ’s objective is not to make profits, its shares have no voting rights, pay restricted dividends and volumes are extremely low because they cannot be traded electronically.

The identity of the investors behind the recent surge is not known but one portfolio manager at a Japanese asset management firm said they likely had deep pockets considering the minimum order was for a lot of 100 shares, which would now cost 54 million yen ($504,390.06).

($1 = 107.0600 yen)

Reporting by Kevin Buckland and Junko Fujita; Additional reporting by Daiki Iga; Editing by Sam Holmes

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