Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks close mixed amid anxiety over bird flu

CAUTION In Taipei share prices closed flat on Friday as dealers were discouraged by the KMT's plans to hold a protest rally today against the president's NUC moves

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks closed mixed on Friday with Tokyo registering further gains after the Bank of Japan announced a return to a more conventional monetary policy.

Rates and another death by bird flu in China weighed on Hong Kong. Sydney, Singapore and Manila were also lower, while Shanghai and Taipei were flat with cross-strait tensions weighing on Taiwan.

Tokyo climbed a further 0.49 percent after the central bank abandoned its super loose monetary policy, although gains were capped by weaker than expected machinery orders. Seoul followed suit, ending a three day sell-down.

Elsewhere, Mumbai surged to a record close on offshore buying, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur gained, while Wellington also struck a record high after the local dollar fell further, lending a boost to exporters. However, potential interest rate hikes in the US had weighed on Wall Street and this also limited gains and extended falls in Asian trading.

Bangkok was again lower ahead of another round of protests next Monday demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra.

Dealers said that most investors would turn their attention to employment data due out of the US overnight before deciding which way the markets will head next.

Taipei share prices closed flat as investors stayed on the sidelines amid a prevailing sense of caution after President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent tightening of China policy.

Dealers said that investors were reluctant to buy aggressively ahead of today's rally by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to protest against Chen's move to scrap the National Unification Council and guidelines.

The TAIEX rose 4.21 points at 6,490.68 on turnover of NT$83.86 billion (US$2.57 billion).

Tokyo share prices rose for a second straight day on optimism that the end to the central bank's ultra-loose monetary policy reflects a stronger economy.

Dealers said the market pared early gains by the finish, however, after closely watched machinery orders data came in weaker than expected and as investors turned cautious ahead of key US employment data later in the day.

The NIKKEI-225 index rose 78.72 points or 0.49 percent to 16,115.63 on turnover of 2.44 billion shares.

Shares opened weaker as a pullback in US markets overnight prompted some investors to take profits after the NIKKEI 225 index jumped 2.6 percent on Thursday on the Bank of Japan's decision to end its ultra-loose monetary policy.

After the initial round of selling waned, the market moved higher as investors continued to cheer the central bank's assurance to keep short-term interest rates around zero for now after abandoning its easy credit policy.

In Seoul share prices closed 0.68 percent higher, snapping a three-day losing streak on foreign investor support, with large cap IT stocks and POSCO leading the gains.

The KOSPI index rose 8.86 points at 1,320.07.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.42 percent lower as investors remained cautious due to interest-rate worries and ahead of key US employment data due later in the day.

Dealers said concern over growing bird flu cases in the region also weighed on sentiment, with China reporting its tenth human fatality from the virus.

The Hang Seng Index lost 65.08 points at 15,445.05.

Shanghai share prices closed flat as fresh support for the metals and auto stocks helped the market steady after a four-day losing streak.

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