Sun, Jan 01, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian markets deliver strong performances

OPTIMISM Tokyo led the way with 40 percent growth last year as several markets put in record-breaking runs. Investors appear confident of further gains this year

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks closed mostly lower on Friday, led down by sharp losses in Tokyo as investors opted to take profits on the last trading day of what has been a very strong regional performance last year, dealers said.

They said there was no real significance to the downturn although there has been some nervousness in New York this week after technical indications seen in the bond market that the risk of a recession may have increased.

There was no evidence that such fears were getting serious play in a region where several markets have put in record-breaking runs and investors appear confident that further gains are to come this year.

On the day, Tokyo lost 1.42 percent on heavy profit-taking but that still left it with a gain of some 40 percent for the year amid growing optimism about Japan's economic outlook.

Mumbai, true to form, posted another record performance, adding 0.80 percent on continued fund support to end the year up more than 42 percent.

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.41 percent lower as investors locked in profits after recent strong gains, dealers said.

They said the profit-taking was relatively modest and the market appears to have formed a solid basis going into the new year but there were some concerns about United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) following another spat with the authorities and the resignation of its chairman Robert Tsao (曹興誠) as a result.

The TAIEX fell 27.19 points to the day's low of 6,548.34. The high was 6,600.17 on turnover of NT$133.55 billion (US$4.07 billion).

Friday's closing level represents a 6.6 percent rise for the TAIEX this year, largely reflecting a recovery that began in October.

Profit-taking hit selected consumer electronics-related firms, but manufacturers of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels attracted some rotational interest, they added.

Japanese share prices fell 1.42 percent in a quiet, half-day session as investors locked in profits a day after the key index ended above 16,300 points for the first time in over five years, dealers said.

The market rounded off the year with an annual gain of 40 percent after riding a wave of interest by foreign investors as the world's number two economy pulls out of a decade-long slump.

In the holiday-shortened session, the Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index fell 232.77 points to close at 16,111.43. The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares lost 13.99 points or 0.84 percent to 1,649.76.

The NIKKEI ended up 40.24 percent for the year on optimism that an economic recovery is gaining traction with deflation seemingly on the verge of ending, dealers said.

Hong Kong share prices closed 1.12 percent lower, with the benchmark index slipping below the key 15,000 points level as sentiment was hit by losses on Wall Street and in Tokyo, dealers said.

They said some futures-related activity following the expiry yesterday of December contracts led to falls in large-caps China Mobile, HSBC and Hutchison Whampoa, dragging the index down.

The Hang Seng Index was 169.16 points at 14,876.43, off a low of 14,811.64 and high of 14,972.20. For last year as a whole, the benchmark index gained 4.5 percent.

Chinese share prices closed 0.77 percent lower on profit-taking after recent gains, with telecom firms and power stocks losing ground, dealers said.

The market continued to flounder last year, with the Shanghai bourse down 8.21 percent and Shenzhen off 11.75 percent as investors once again showed no sign of any long-term commitment despite repeated government reassurances.

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