Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks close week firmer amid cautious sentiment

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks closed higher on Friday amid a firmer dollar in quiet trading as most markets were shut for the Easter weekend, dealers said.

However sentiment remained cautious with gains mostly marginal as the threat of high oil prices lurked in the background and with the US Federal Reserve's warning over inflation continuing to ring in investors' ears.

Markets here chose to ignore Wall Street's mixed performance overnight but some dealers found a stronger US dollar a source of comfort with exporters in the region set to benefit from weaker local currencies.

The TAIEX gained 1.08 percent on a bounce in semiconductor and flat-panel stocks mainly on support from government-linked institutions, and ahead of yesterday's mass rally to protest China's "Anti-Secession" Law.

Analysts said trade was relatively modest as most other market participants took to the sidelines ahead of yesterday's rally.

The TAIEX gained 64.91 points at 6,065.91, the high for the day, on turnover of NT$58.66 billion (US$1.86 billion).

Risers led decliners 675 to 211, with 128 stocks unchanged.

Japanese share prices closed 0.13 percent higher as a firmer dollar eased fears that a strong yen would hurt exports, still the main driver for local economic growth, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index rose 15.13 points to 11,761.10 but was well off an early high of 11,802.70.

The broader TOPIX index of all First Section shares gained 5.34 points or 0.45 percent to 1,193.78.

South Korean share prices closed 0.94 percent higher, ending two straight days of losses, on bargain-hunting by institutional investors in the blue chips such as Samsung Electronics, dealers said.

The KOSPI index closed up 8.97 points at 965.30, just off a high of 965.42.

Chinese share prices gave up early gains and closed 0.20 percent lower on Friday as banks were hit by quick profit-taking after recent gains and power generators underperformed on cost worries, dealers said.

The Shanghai A-share Index lost 2.56 points to 1,265.03 on turnover of 5.02 billion yuan (US$606 million) while the Shenzhen A-share Index was down 0.14 points or 0.05 percent at 313.78 on turnover of 3.54 billion yuan.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A- and B-shares, shed 2.56 points or 0.21 percent at 1,205.63 on turnover of 5.08 billion yuan.

Stock markets in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Hong Kong were closed on Friday.

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