Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Bright outlook for the year bolsters markets in Asia

CONFIDENCE In Taiwan, share prices closed higher on the back of a technical rebound led by the embattled UMC and supported by continued interest from foreign investors


Asian stock markets closed mostly firmer on Friday as the underlying confidence in the region's prospects for later this year offset a poor showing on Wall Street overnight, dealers said.

They said it was notable that Tokyo bounced back after losses earlier in the week on news the economy was in recession for most of last year, with investors taking the view that the country would get back on track soon.

Similarly, the record breaking Sydney market was virtually unchanged even after its central bank governor warned once again of the likely need for an early interest rate hike to head off inflation.

He also highlighted the continued strong underlying performance of the economy, largely due to unceasing and growing demand from China, which is now firmly established as the region's lode star for the future.

The firmer tone was seen too in Seoul, despite heavy losses in US tech shares overnight, and in Hong Kong, while Jakarta continued to defy gravity and chart yet another record finish.

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.71 percent higher on the back of a technical rebound led by United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) and supported by continued foreign investor interest, dealers said.

The market reacted favorably to UMC chairman Robert Tsao's (曹興誠) rejection of allegations his company had illegal investment links with China-based He Jian Technology (Suzhou) Co (和艦) and his statement that he would be ready to buy the Chinese chipmaker.

UMC, the world's second-largest custom chip maker, had been badly hit by the allegations and subsequent government probe into the matter.

The TAIEX closed up 43.27 points at 6,115.43, off a low of 6,062.96 and a high of 6,128.64, on turnover of NT$86.40 billion.

Risers led decliners 480 to 315, with 191 stocks unchanged.

UMC closed NT$0.50 higher at NT$20.40, supported by bargain-hunting after recent heavy losses due to the government probe. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) was up NT$0.50 at NT$54.00.

Japanese share prices closed 0.67 percent higher on bargain-hunting after recent losses on hopes the economy will pick up despite weak growth data released this week, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index gained 77.40 points to 11,660.12. The broader TOPIX index of all First Section shares rose 4.64 points or 0.40 percent to 1,166.57.

Advancers led decliners 768 to 680, with 156 stocks unchanged.

South Korean share prices closed 1.19 percent higher at a new high for the year as Samsung Electronics rebounded on foreign investor interest, pushing the index well above 980 points, dealers said.

The KOSPI index closed up 11.54 points at 984.10. This was the best close since Sept 15, 2000 when it hit 992.50.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.86 percent higher as institutional investors, mainly hedge funds, bought blue chips in what appears to be an attempt to push the market ahead, dealers said.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 120.05 points at 14,087.87, off a high of 14,093.43 and a low of 13,898.92. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was up 14.83 points or 0.30 percent at 4,923.54.

The property sub-index closed up 238.53 points or 1.40 percent at 17,324.73.

Chinese share prices closed 1.36 percent lower as investors consolidated recent gains, with steel and real estate stocks under pressure, dealers said.

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