Sun, Oct 03, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Rebound in Japan leads Asian markets to firmer levels

QUIET TRADE Taiwan advanced to within striking distance of the key 6,000 points resistance level despite a larger-than-expected hike of 25 basis points in interest rates

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian share markets closed the week on a firmer note, led by solid gains of 1.49 percent in Tokyo after a better-than-expected Tankan survey of business sentiment offset a weaker Wall Street performance, dealers said on Friday.

Steady oil prices allowed investors some respite in generally quiet trade with the Hong Kong and Chinese markets closed for China's national day holidays.

Taiwan advanced 1.7 percent to within striking distance of the key 6,000 points resistance level despite a larger-than-expected hike of 25 basis points in interest rates, with financials getting a boost since the move helps their margins.

At the same time, Taiwan's "old-economy" industrial conglomerates also found favor on the view that they will still be able to secure better lending terms given their size and diversity.

Taiwanese financials got a boost from the interest rate hike as it helps their margins, dealers said, while electronics underperformed on continuing concerns over the outlook for flat-panel makers.

The weighted index closed up 99.66 points at 5,945.35 on turnover of NT$102.53 billion (US$3.02 billion). Risers led decliners 494 to 185, with 135 stocks unchanged.

The transportation sector was up 5.02 percent, textiles rose 3.72 percent, plastics/petrochemicals added 3.18 percent, cement 2.88 percent, paper 2.41 percent and financials 2.15 percent while steel gained 2.07 percent.

The electronics sector was up 0.81 percent.

Dealers said that while old-economy companies -- cement, plastics and paper -- still look attractive, thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panel makers remained under pressure as investors take on board concerns about oversupply and increasing competition.

Japanese share prices closed 1.49 percent higher after the key Tankan survey showed continued improvement in business sentiment in the September quarter, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index gained 161.60 points to 10,985.17. The broader TOPIX index of all First Section shares rose 15.18 points or 1.38 percent to 1,117.29.

Advancers led decliners 1,209 to 284, with 84 stocks unchanged on brisk volume of 1.46 billion shares, up from 1.30 billion on Thursday.

"The rebound from recent declines, which started Thursday, is continuing, encouraged by the Tankan survey," said Masatoshi Sato, strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities.

Share prices rose virtually across the board, with the biggest gains among domestic demand-oriented companies such as the banks, real-estate developers, contractors, drug makers and food and beverage companies.

South Korean share prices closed 1.31 percent higher as POSCO and Hyundai Motor rallied on hopes for strong quarterly results, dealers said.

After a cautious start following a weaker Wall Street performance overnight, the market gained momentum on the back of Samsung Electronics' share buy-back and Hyundai Motor's solid monthly car sales data. The KOSPI index closed up 10.92 points at the day's high of 846.01 and off a low of 834.75. Trading volume was 291 million shares worth 1.8 trillion won (US$1.56 billion). Risers led fallers 478 to 239, with 92 stocks unchanged.

Australian share prices closed 0.15 percent lower, snapping their latest record breaking run on a weaker News Corp as investors opted to take profits, dealers said.

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