Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Japan, Taiwan advance on semiconductors

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Asian stocks advanced this week as benchmarks in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan rallied for a third week. Semicon-ductor-related shares including Tokyo Electron Ltd and Samsung Electronics Co led the advance after Intel Corp said third-quarter profit more than doubled as demand in Asia surged.

"The demand for semiconductor goods is recovering globally and Intel's results are a reflection of that," Hiroyuki Kakehida, who manages the equivalent of US$3.7 billion in global equities at DL-IBJ Asset Management Co in Tokyo, said Wednesday.

Exporters such as Sony Corp, Hyundai Motor Co and Li & Fung Ltd gained after US reports showing a drop in jobless claims and rising manufacturing suggested that improving growth in the world's largest economy will bolster profits.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 2.3 percent for the ninth weekly gain in 10, while the Topix index rose 1.9 percent, its sixth weekly advance in seven. The stock market in Japan was closed Monday for a national holiday.

South Korea's Kospi added 1.3 percent and the TAIEX in Taiwan rose 2.9 percent for its biggest weekly gain since August.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 0.7 percent this week and has gained 8.6 percent this month. Stock markets in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore rose this week, while shares in Malaysia fell.

In the US, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.1 percent for the week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5 percent. Both have advanced three straight weeks.

The NASDAQ Composite Index lost 0.2 percent. The Dow reached its highest closing level in more than 17 months earlier this week, while the NASDAQ touched its highest since January 2002.

Intel, the world's biggest computer-chip maker, said third-quarter profit rose to US$1.66 billion as sales jumped 20 percent, its biggest increase in more than three years. Revenue exceeded a forecast Intel gave last month, and sales this period may beat some analysts' estimates.

Demand in Japan, China, India, and Russia primarily drove growth, chief financial officer Andy Bryant said in an interview.

Tokyo Electron, the world's second-largest supplier of chipmaking equipment, rallied 7.4 percent to ¥8,150.

Advantest Corp, the world's biggest maker of memory-chip testing equipment, gained 6.5 percent to ¥8,220.

Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), the second-largest supplier of made-to-order semiconductors in the world, gained 3 percent to NT$31.2.

Samsung Electronics, the world's second-largest semiconductor company, climbed 1.6 percent to 452,000 won. The company posted an unexpected gain in third-quarter profit as sales of flat-panel displays and memory chips surged.

Separately, Samsung and Sony are in the final stages of negotiations to invest ¥100 billion (US$911 million) each to make liquid-crystal displays. Sony gained 4.3 percent this week to ¥4,160.

Sony shares also rose with other Asian exporters on signs that demand in the US may recover as economic growth picks up.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its index of manufacturing had the biggest expansion in seven years.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing initial applications for unemployment benefits for the week ended Saturday fell to the lowest in eight months.

Nissan Motor Co gained 6.5 percent to ¥1,315. Japan's third-biggest automaker said first-half operating profit rose 15 percent to a record ¥401.1 billion, as it sold more cars and cut costs.

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