Sun, Jul 17, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Asian markets shrug off gains on Wall Street

MAKING TIMEInvestors took selective profits on Friday as they waited for the release of mid-year corporate reports and key US data, while the overall tone remained positive

AFP , HONG KONG AND TAIPEI

Asian stocks closed narrowly mixed on Friday with investors marking time ahead of the mid-year corporate reporting season and the release of key data from the US, dealers said.

They said the markets had shrugged off solid overnight gains on Wall Street, preferring select-profit taking while the overall tone remained positive with many markets near multi-year highs.

Investors are anticipating strong corporate profits from the US, the world's growth engine, and elsewhere, and if companies deliver on their expectations then another rally would appear likely.

Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore all closed flat while the Philippines was higher on an apparent easing in political tensions as Shanghai fell on the back of profit warnings.

In Taipei share prices closed 0.12 percent lower as investors opted to lock in profits rather than push the upside further despite gains on Wall Street and a fall in crude oil prices overnight.

Dealers said the bellwether electronics stocks came under particularly heavy profit-taking pressure but rotational interest in financial and cement stocks provided support on the downside.

"Overseas investors are reducing their shares in South Korea and are likely to put more funds into Taiwan," said Michael Hsu (許派一), a Jih Sun Securities Investment (日盛投信) assistant vice president.

"Taiwan dollar's relatively steady performance also helps boost sentiment and keeps them on the buying side," Hsu said.

The TAIEX closed down 7.76 points at 6,410.59 on turnover of NT$106.73 billion (US$3.34 billion).

For the week ending Friday, the TAIEX gained 209.19 points or 3.37 percent to 6,410.59, following a 1.13 percent decline in the previous week. Average daily turnover stood at NT$103.05 billion, up from NT$72.11 billion a week earlier.

Taiwanese share prices are expected to stay firm next week amid stronger foreign investor support especially for the bellwether electronics sector, dealers said on Friday.

Foreign investors have resumed their buying activities evidenced in this week's major gains and are likely to continue next week partly due to the New Taiwan dollar's steady performance, the dealers said.

The local currency rose 0.54 percent over the week to end at NT$31.942 against the greenback on Friday. It finished at 32.115 a week ago.

Tokyo share prices closed flat, after giving up early gains as the market waited for confirmation of strong US data and Japanese corporate results which begin coming out next week.

Japanese semiconductor and high-tech shares posted gains despite South Korean chipmaking giant Samsung reporting net profit for the second quarter that was sharply down.

Investors instead are waiting for figures next week from the world's biggest chipmaker, US-based Intel, analysts said.

The NIKKEI-225 index fell 5.58 points to 11,758.68.

Seoul share prices closed 0.22 percent lower, as some investors took profits after a weak Samsung Electronics earnings report. The KOSPI index closed down 2.33 points at 1,059.60.

Hong Kong share prices closed little changed after a week of solid gains which saw the benchmark index gain 3.87 percent on the back of interest in property stocks. The Hang Seng Index closed up 12.75 points at 14,504.29.

Shanghai share prices closed 1.32 percent lower on Friday, with sentiment hit, especially in the power and airline stocks, after several key firms issued severe profit-warnings.

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