Sun, Apr 06, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Stocks in Asia end week lower as exporters slump

BLOOMBERG , TOKYO

Asian stocks ended the week lower, led by Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co and other exporters, after US reports showed the world's biggest economy may be slowing amid the war in Iraq.

Concern the outbreak of a killer virus in the region may reduce economic growth and companies' earnings also weighed on markets, taking benchmarks in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore down for the week.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 2.5 percent this week and the Topix index slid 2.7 percent, their biggest weekly declines since the five days ended March 7.

Sony, which relies on the US for more than a quarter of its sales, slid 5.9 percent to ¥4,200. Ricoh Co, Japan's No. 2 office-equipment maker, declined 5.3 percent to ¥1,787.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of computer-memory chips, lost 7.7 percent to 183,500 won. The company generates more than a fifth of its sales in the US.

Hyundai Motor Co, whose exports account for more than half of its sales, lost 4 percent to 24,650 won.

"Exporters are going to take a bigger hit in their profits as the US economy shows more signs of a slowdown," said Makoto Sakuma, who helps manages the equivalent of US$3.3 billion at Asahi Life Asset Management Co.

Toyota Motor Corp, the No. 4 automaker in the US, tumbled 6.1 percent to ¥2,635.

Japan's three largest bank were among the biggest losers, falling to record lows during the week.

Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc shed 10 percent to Y420,000 after saying its pretax loss for the year ended March probably totaled Y405 billion (US$3.4 billion), compared with its November forecast of a Y165 billion loss.

"The losses on their shareholdings are piling up, which undermines sentiment and raises concerns about lenders' balance sheets," said Masanao Yoshitake, who helps handle US$2.5 billion as a fund manager at Meiji Dresdner Asset Management Co. He cut his stake in banks, including shares of Mitsubishi Tokyo.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc, Japan's largest bank by assets, plunged 25 percent to ¥74,400. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc, Japan's second-biggest bank, dropped 20 percent to ¥180,000.

Hong Kong's Star Cruises Ltd, fell 9.4 percent for the week.

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