Sun, Jan 16, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Asian markets crumble as oil prices peak

TECHNICAL REBOUND Taiwanese share prices closed 0.61 percent higher after recent losses as short-covering offset Wall Street's heavy overnight losses, analysts said

AFP , HONG KONG

A Filipino counts his money in front of a local money changer in Manila on Friday. Philippine share prices on Friday closed 0.59 percent higher on last-minute buying in select blue chips, dealers said.

PHOTO: EPA

Asian stock markets closed mostly lower on Friday after Wall Street failed to provide any inspiration following an unexpected spike in oil prices which sent shares in the US tumbling.

They said that in the absence of concrete leads in most Asian markets, local investment sentiment -- already weakened by a disappointing start to the year -- crumbled when oil prices peaked overnight to over US$48 a barrel, a level not seen since November.

Global crude prices had surged after forecasts of cold weather in the US and on concerns that upcoming elections in Iraq would lead to more violence designed to disrupt oil production.

On the day, it was left to localized news flow to help individual markets buck the trend.

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.61 percent higher in a technical rebound after recent losses as short-covering offset Wall Street's heavy overnight losses, dealers said.

They said investor sentiment was cautious ahead of the corporate earnings season and on persistent fears that foreign investors had grown tired of Taiwanese equities.

The TAIEX closed up 35.58 points at 5,889.52, off a low of 5,813.15 and a high of 5,895.35, on turnover of NT$56.85 billion (US$1.78 billion).

Risers led decliners 488 to 255, with 156 stocks unchanged.

"Short-covering emerged following falls in share prices," said Jack Tam, an assistant vice president at Yuanta Core Pacific Capital Management (元大京華投顧).

Japanese share prices closed 0.71 percent higher after private sector machinery orders for November came in much stronger than expected, offsetting the heavy losses on Wall Street, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index gained 80.17 points to 11,438.39. The broader TOPIX index of all First Section shares added 5.65 points or 0.50 percent to 1,145.69.

South Korean share prices closed 2.12 percent higher as Samsung Electronics' positive quarterly results sparked aggressive buying, sending the index above the 900-point level for the first time in nine months, dealers said.

The KOSPI index closed up 19.56 points at 905.10, off a high of 905.52 and a low of 877.44.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.58 percent lower as investors locked in profits in select blue chips and Macau-related stocks after Wall Street's sharp fall and higher oil prices overnight, dealers said.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 78.50 points at 13,494.78, off a low of 13,411.31.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was down 47.50 points or 1 percent at 4,540.60.

Chinese share prices closed 0.85 percent lower as the market continued to trade in a narrow range without conviction and any hope that current trends can be broken, dealers said.

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