Sun, Feb 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks end mixed as investors follow local leads

REBOUND Although concern over President Chen Shui-bian's China policy put local investors under pressure this week, it opened up an opportunity for bargain hunting

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks closed mixed on Friday with investors following domestic leads and taking profits while negative sentiment stemming from Wall Street's falls also weighed on sentiment.

Sydney fell in line with a similar performance by base metal prices, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were down amid lingering concerns over interest rates and Wellington fell on weakness in blue chips.

Weaker Asian trends led Mumbai lower and Tokyo was flat, but elsewhere modest gains were notched-up in Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul.

Bangkok outperformed on the day with a 1.24 percent rise amid signs that political tensions surrounding Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's leadership could be easing after he met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

However, uncertainty returned after trade when Thaksin announced he had dissolved the lower house of parliament, opening the way for a snap election.

In Taipei share prices closed 0.98 percent higher on a technical rebound after heavy recent losses made on concerns about President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) stand on relations with China.

Dealers said the market had been under pressure from concern that Chen's China policy could provoke a harsh response, but this opened up an opportunity for bargain hunting.

The TAIEX rose 63.53 points to its high of 6,538.22, off a low of 6,473.80, on turnover of NT$81.74 billion (US$2.52 billion).

"A technical rebound after a steep decline for three straight sessions was far from a big surprise," said Oliver Fang, a Yuanta Core Pacific Securities (元大京華證券) assistant vice president who serves mainly foreign investors.

Tokyo

Tokyo share prices closed firmer, recovering from early losses as bargain hunters emerged to buy on the dips, encouraged by the recent return of foreign investors.

Dealers said that trade was cautious, however, amid jitters about strong hints from the central bank pointing to a tightening of monetary policy which pushed the yen up to a one-month high, putting exporters under pressure.

The NIKKEI-225 index added 5.81 points to 16,101.91 on turnover of 1.89 billion shares.

Share prices got off to a weak start as the yen rose and market sentiment was hurt by strong hints on Thursday from Bank of Japan governor Toshihiko Fukui that the central bank will soon end its super-loose monetary policy.

"Share prices had been softer due mainly to a rise in the value of the yen against the dollar, which was caused by Fukui's comments but some investors chased bargains later, pushing the NIKKEI index above the key 16,000 level," said Hideo Mizutani, chief strategist at Sieg Securities.

Seoul share prices closed 0.34 percent higher on institutional investor support, and with autos and KTG leading the rise.

Dealers said intensified program buying helped the index end near its strongest level for the day, offsetting massive profit-taking by retail investors ahead of the weekend.

The KOSPI index closed up 4.59 points at 1,365.82.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.28 percent higher as index heavyweight HSBC attracted buying interest amid fresh speculation that it might make an acquisition.

Dealers said the market's gains were capped by caution ahead of the expiry of February futures contracts tomorrow.

The Hang Seng index closed up 43.52 points at 15,856.05.

Shanghai

Shanghai share prices closed 0.60 percent higher, continuing firmer as steelmakers and real estate developers found some support.

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