Sun, Aug 20, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Profit-taking in Asia gnaws into slim early gains

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks closed mostly lower on Friday after profit-taking set in in late trading and eroded gains notched up earlier in the day following an overnight rise on Wall Street.

Another drop in oil prices as tensions continued to ease in the Middle East also bolstered early trade, but only Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore remained in positive territory, closing with modest gains.

Sydney again stood out despite closing flat with a touted US$12 billion bid for Coles Myer dominating trade and BHP's announcement that it has closed the world's largest copper mine in Chile amid a strike.

Falling commodity prices also weighed on sentiment with Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur closing flat and Hong Kong posting slight losses, while Shanghai was also lower after Air China's debut on the Chinese boards failed to impress.

Elsewhere, investors took to the sidelines with Taipei, Mumbai, Manila and Wellington registering modest losses as dealers complained about a lack of fresh leads capable of sustaining buy orders.

Jakarta was closed for a public holiday.

Taipei

Taipei share prices closed 0.18 percent lower as weakness in technology stocks eroded early gains on Wall Street's firm showing overnight.

Dealers said the tourism sector outperformed the broader market after a report that China's National Tourism Administration will establish the China Tourism Association.

This was expected to pave the way for improved communications between Taipei and Beijing in cross-strait tourism development.

The weighted index closed down 12.38 points at 6,721.08 on turnover of NT$81.52 billion (US$2.49 billion).

"Those who read charts chose to lock in profits amid concerns about technical factors after the index's recent upswing," said Michael On, president with Beyond Asset Management Co Ltd.

Tokyo share prices closed 0.53 percent higher, hitting a fresh three-month high, buoyed by gains on US stock markets and a drop in oil prices.

Dealers said with no major data coming from Japan this week, the mood stayed upbeat about the domestic economy in the glow of strong performances by Japanese companies in the just-closed earnings season, dealers added.

The NIKKEI-225 index rose 85.14 points to 16,105.98.

Seoul share prices inched up, extending gains for a fourth session, following a rise on Wall Street and lower oil prices.

Dealers said large-cap IT stocks were strong gainers on investor expectations for improved earnings, with Samsung Electronics rising more than 2 percent and Hynix more than 1 percent.

The KOSPI index closed up 3.32 points at 1,331.10.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.24 percent lower led by oil and other commodity stocks following a drop in prices of crude oil and metals on Thursday.

Dealers said investors were also cautious ahead of more corporate results announcements next week, including those of Hutchison Whampoa, Cheung Kong, China Unicom and Hang Lung Properties.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 42.35 points at 17,330.70.

Shanghai share prices closed 0.34 percent lower, with weak sentiment reflected in Air China which was unchanged at its initial public offering price on debut in Shanghai.

Dealers said the Chinese flag carrier's opening was by far the worst performance of the dozen companies to come to the market since a year-long ban on domestic IPO's was lifted in May.

The Shanghai A-share Index fell 5.68 points to 1,679.86 and the Shenzhen A-share Index was down 2.55 points or 0.62 percent at 411.88.

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