Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks make solid gains in cautious trading

TECHNICAL BOUNCE Taiwanese share prices extended gains as interest from foreign investors offset early losses after Wall Street's weaker performance overnight


Asian stocks managed solid gains on Friday despite a negative lead from Wall Street, but much of the advance was technical in nature after recent weakness and the tone was cautious ahead of key US employment figures due later in the day, dealers said.

They said the picture was flattered by a sharp snap back in several markets and as Tokyo played catch-up with a 1.73 percent jump after being closed for the Golden Week holidays.

The fact that the US Federal Reserve -- after some unprecedented confusion -- kept monetary policy on track mid-week has helped reassure investors to a certain degree but they really need some clear-cut lead to settle the argument of whether the US economy is really slowing.

The hope is that the US employment report will do that but in the current uncertain context, it would take some special to resolve the issue.

On the day, smaller markets Bangkok and Jakarta outperformed with gains of 2.12 percent and 1.78 percent, while Seoul added 1.24 percent. Hong Kong bucked the trend, falling 0.20 percent as investors opted for safety first.

Markets in Shanghai were closed.

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.68 percent higher, extending gains as much-needed interest from foreign investors offset early losses after Wall Street's weaker performance overnight, dealers said.

They said foreign investors appear to have returned to the market ahead of Morgan Stanley Capital International's scheduled increase in Taiwan's weightings in its indices at the end of this month.

The TAIEX closed up 40.46 points at 5,967.96, off a low of 5,917.02 and a high of 5,974.86, on turnover of NT$80.28 billion (US$2.58 billion US). Decliners led gainers 438 to 408, with 167 stocks unchanged.

Some short-term investors took profits following Wall Street's weaker close but expectations of further foreign investor interest bolstered sentiment, he said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index was up 190.06 points at 11,192.17. The broader TOPIX index of all first section shares rose 18.96 points or 1.68 percent to 1,150.76.

Gains led declines 1,379 to 191 with 79 stocks unchanged on volume of 1.27 billion shares. Japanese markets were closed Tuesday through Thursday for public holidays.

"The market got a boost from gains on Wall Street during the Japanese holidays," said Masatoshi Sato, senior strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities.

"Investors also took comfort from the fact that there was no negative news from the US Federal Reserve meeting and also no anti-Japanese protests in China during that period," he said.

South Korean share prices closed 1.24 percent higher as foreign investors snapped up Samsung Electronics and other IT shares on hopes that flat panel prices will pick up after recent sustained weakness, dealers said. The KOSPI index closed up 11.5 points at 940.85.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.2 percent weaker on profit-taking in select banking and property stocks, with investors cautious ahead of the release of key US April nonfarm payrolls data later in the day, dealers said.

The key Hang Seng Index closed down 27.74 points at 14,033.96, off a low of 14,004.07 and high of 14,095.85. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was down 28.93 points or 0.61 percent at 4,737.84.

Australian share prices closed 0.7 percent higher after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said interest rates were unlikely to rise in the near future because of indications the economy was cooling, dealers said.

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