Sun, Mar 20, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Asian markets rebound from Thursday's losses


Asian stocks closed mostly firmer on Friday in a modest technical rebound after sharp losses on Thursday sparked by a weaker Wall Street and record oil prices, dealers said.

They said the markets are basically churning around current levels, hoping to break out on the upside on the back of Asia's solid fundamentals but with concerns over rising oil prices and the likelihood of higher interest rates keeping investors cautious.

Against this background, the lead from Wall Street has become even more important than usual and the fact that US stocks steadied on Thursday allowed the region some limited leeway, with Sydney taking the opportunity to add 0.46 percent for yet another record finish.

Similarly Tokyo rose 0.89 percent as the media sector got a boost from the takeover battle between Livedoor and Fuji TV, and property picked up on the view held by some that prices have finally bottomed out after many years.

Manila was the worst performer, down 2.37 percent on concerns over possible terrorist attacks after the police put down a prison uprising earlier this week led by Islamic-lined militants.

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.19 percent higher, steadying in line with Wall Street overnight after sharp losses on Thursday, but with the tone cautious and trade modest.

Dealers said sentiment was hesitant following a significant foreign investor sell-off but petrochemical stocks outperformed on expectations they will be the beneficiaries of record high oil prices.

The TAIEX closed up 11.48 points at 6,043.95 on turnover of NT$56.60 billion (US$1.82 billion).

Japanese stock prices closed 0.89 percent higher, supported by bargain-hunting and domestic-focused stocks but trade was thin ahead of a three-day weekend.

Major indexes

* TAIEX: up 0.19 percent at 6,043.95.

* NIKKEI-225: up 0.89 percent at 11,879.81.

* KOSPI: up 0.03 percent at 979.72.

* Shanghai Composite: down 1.29 percent at 1,227.40.

Japanese markets will be closed tomorrow for a public holiday.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index gained 104.31 points to 11,879.81. The broader TOPIX index of all first section shares rose 10.98 points, or 0.92 percent, to 1,203.26.

South Korean shares closed 0.03 percent lower with foreign investors selling down blue chips amid concerns over high oil prices and fears of a US rate hike. The KOSPI index closed down 0.33 point at 979.72.

Hong Kong share prices closed flat after moving within a narrow range amid concerns of a likely interest rate hike next week both in Hong Kong and in the US. The Hang Seng Index was up 10.38 points at 13,828.37.

Chinese stock prices closed 1.29 percent lower as oil at record levels and concerns the government will take additional measures to slow the economy combined in a fourth consecutive losing session.

The Shanghai A-share Index shed 16.82 points to 1,287.86, while the Shenzhen A-share Index was down 6.56 points or 2.02 percent at 318.78. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B-shares, lost 16.07 points or 1.29 percent at 1,227.40 on turnover of 7.34 billion yuan. The Shanghai B-share Index was down 1.25 points or 1.54 percent at 79.49, while the Shenzhen B-share Index fell 3.51 points or 1.32 percent at 261.61.

Australian stock prices closed 0.39 percent higher on the back of solid support for heavyweight resource stocks. The SP/ASX 200 index closed up 16.7 points at a record 4,249.1.

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