Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Asian indexes fall, Taiwan gains on steel demand


Japanese stocks fell this week, led by NEC Corp and other computer-related companies, after International Busi-ness Machines Corp and Intel Corp damped investors' expectations for a recovery in demand for computers.

"Expectations have gone a bit too far ahead of reality for technology stocks and that situation needs to be corrected," said Takaaki Yoda, who helps manage the equivalent of US$850 million in Asian equities at APS Asset Management (Japan) Co in Tokyo.

"It's about time for people to start to reassess."

The Nikkei 225 Stock fell 1.1 percent this week to 9527.73, declining for the first week in three. The Topix index dropped 1.3 percent to 933.10. It fell for a second week as electronics makers as a group slid 0.5 percent.

South Korea's Kospi index had its first weekly drop in three, shedding 0.7 percent to 699.35. Hyundai Motor Co led the decline after its union members staged a strike today to demand an increase in wages.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 2.3 percent to 10,140.84, its second weekly gain. Billionaire Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd advanced after saying it received a HK$3.8 billion (US$487 million) loan to help refinance debt.

In Taiwan, the TWSE index ended the week 0.9 percent higher at 5287.38. Steelmakers such as China Steel Corp rose after a Chinese-language newspaper report suggested they may raise prices because of demand from China.

US gains

In the US yesterday, stocks rose for the first day in four as Microsoft Corp, the world's biggest software maker, raised its fiscal 2004 revenue forecast and an analyst said sales growth at McDonald's Corp, the world's largest restaurant chain, is accelerating this month.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 1.2 percent to 993.32. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5 percent to 9188.15. The NASDAQ Composite Index added 0.6 percent to 1708.50.

For the week, the S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent and the NASDAQ dropped 1.5 percent. The Dow average gained 0.8 percent.

NEC, the world's sixth-largest chipmaker, slumped 5.6 percent to ?721 this week. Toshiba Corp, the world's No. 3 chipmaker, declined 4.7 percent to ?450. Hitachi Ltd, Japan's fourth-largest chipmaker, dropped 3.5 percent to ?545.

IBM, the world's biggest computer maker, said hardware sales fell in the second quarter while software sales rose by less than some investors had expected.

The report further damped investors' expectations of a turnaround at sellers of chips and computers after Intel Corp, the world's biggest chipmaker, said on Tuesday that it's too early to tell if businesses are ready to update computer systems.

Other computer-related shares in Asia ended the week lower.

Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp, the world's second-largest supplier of made-to-order chips, fell 2 percent this week to NT$24.4. South Korea's LG Electronics Inc, the nation's second-largest electronics maker, declined 2.3 percent to 50,000 won.

Hyundai Motor, South Korea's largest automaker, ended the week 7.3 percent lower at 33,150 won. Its union members staged a strike today to demand an increase in wages, a five-day working week and other benefits.

Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa, Asia's biggest investor in European mobile telephone companies, advanced 6.6 percent during the week to close Friday at HK$52.25. A group of 15 international and local banks agreed to lend the money to Hong Kong-based Hutchison for five years at an interest rate of 41 basis points more than the Hong Kong interbank offered rate, which was fixed at 1.1875 percent for three-month borrowings on Friday. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

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