Sun, Jul 13, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Japan's Nikkei rose for second week; Taiwan gained

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Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose for a second week, led by Tokyo Electron Ltd and Ito-Yokado Co, after government reports on machinery orders and consumer sentiment fueled optimism the Japanese economy may recover.

"One can't avoid domestic-oriented companies, as there are signs of an economic pick-up within Japan," said Atsushi Osa, who helps manage the equivalent of US$110 billion in assets at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co. "The economy isn't likely to deteriorate going forward."

The Nikkei added 0.9 percent this week to 9635.35, gaining for the seventh week in eight. Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd, Japan's largest drugmaker, was among the biggest contributors to the advance after the US government recommended approval of Shionogi & Co's cholesterol-reducing drug Crestor.

The Topix index shed 0.3 percent to 945.78 this week as US reports on jobless claims and retail sales damped optimism that growth in the world's largest economy will accelerate in coming months. Some exporters such as Canon Inc declined.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 2.9 percent to 9911.50, its biggest weekly gain in 10 weeks. Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, the city's biggest real estate company by sales, surged after a UBS Securities Asia Ltd analyst said in a research report that the stock remains the brokerage's "top pick" among developers.

In Taiwan, the TWSE index closed at 5239.96, for a week's gain of 1.7 percent. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, the island's biggest electronics maker by sales, led the advance after saying it plans to sell as much as US$690 million of bonds convertible to shares to fund purchases of materials.

In the US, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 1.3 percent and had its sixth weekly gain in seven. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5 percent and The NASDAQ Composite Index jumped 4.2 percent.

South Korea rallies

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 704.15, led by Samsung Electronics Co, the world's No. 2 semiconductor maker.

The company raised this year's sales forecast for flat-panel displays, chips and other goods made in China by almost a fifth after opening new factories to boost production.

Elsewhere in Asia, benchmarks in Thailand, Malaysia and New Zealand fell for the week, while those in Indonesia, Australia and Singapore gained.

A government report on Tuesday showed that machinery orders in Japan, an early indicator of business investment, unexpectedly increased 6.5 percent in May.

Tokyo Electron, the world's No. 2 maker of chip-production equipment, gained 6.2 percent to ¥6,640 this week. Advantest Corp, the world's biggest maker of equipment used to test memory chips, advanced 2.5 percent to ¥6,050.

Retailers gained on optimism consumer spending will increase.

Ito-Yokado, Japan's largest retailer, rose 3.6 percent to ¥3,430. Seven-Eleven Japan Co, the nation's No. 1 convenience store chain, added 0.6 percent to 3,320.

The government's monthly index which measures sentiment among taxi drivers, restaurant owners and other workers on the so-called front line of the economy, rose to 42.1 last month, up 3.7 points from May. The index improved for the first time in three months.

US economy

Concerns about the US economy dragged down some exporters.

First-time filings for jobless insurance rose in the week that ended yesterday, the US Department of Labor said in Washington.

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