Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asia struggles as US feel-good factor ebbs

CAUTIOUS Worrying Fed data sparked early losses in Taipei which were limited by hopes for end-quarter window-dressing and a rally in firms with a presence in China


The KOSPI index lost 18.41 points at 1,348.38, with investors concerned about a potentially more serious slowdown in the US, a key export market for South Korea and the region as a whole.

Samsung Electronics and other major IT stocks and exporters tumbled, extending heavy losses for a second day due to fears exports may be additionally hurt by the won's recent sharp appreciation.


Hong Kong share prices closed off their lows as a stronger-than-expected debut for China Merchants Bank encouraged investors to pick up select blue chips in late trade, dealers said.

The market was hit in early trade by US economic data showing an unexpected contraction in manufacturing activity but it recouped most of its losses in the afternoon as investor sentiment got a lift from the Chinese lender's strong debut.

The Hang Seng Index fell 19.32 points or 0.11 percent to 17,600.65, off a low of 17,511.96 and a high of 17,639.13.

"The market was quite volatile, with US losses weighing [on sentiment] in early trade," said Castor Pang, strategist at Sun Hung Kai Financial group.

"But the losses were trimmed in the afternoon as funds flowed back into the market ... boosting select blue chips," Pang said.

Pang said sentiment in the local market is generally positive following China Merchants Bank's strong debut and due to upcoming IPOs, including that of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

"The market should see strong support in the near-term as large upcoming IPOs will help boost buying interest ... I expect the benchmark index to rise to 17,800 points in the near term," Pang said.


Chinese share prices closed 0.91 percent lower on profit-taking ahead of the National Day holiday next month, with airlines and steel makers under pressure, dealers said.

They said further gains in the yuan to another post-revaluation high against the dollar continued to provide overall support and after recent sustained rises there was little surprise that some investors took profits ahead of the weekend.

There may be more of the same next week as investors look ahead then to the week-long National Day holidays.

The Shanghai A-share Index fell 16.72 points to 1,812.69 and the Shenzhen A-share Index was down 3.32 points or 0.74 percent at 446.55.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A- and B-shares, lost 15.54 points or 0.89 percent at 1,725.36.

The yuan posted its highest post revaluation close against the dollar, ending at 7.9160 compared with the previous finish at 7.9231.


Australian shares prices closed 0.25 percent lower as losses in the the banks offset bargain hunting in resource stocks following an overnight jump in metal prices, dealers said.

They said the banks were hit after ANZ said it was putting into receivership New Zealand carpet maker Feltex, with the sector already under pressure from recent earnings downgrades.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 shed 12.7 points at 4,983.2 while the broader All Ordinaries Index fell 11.0 points to 4,948.4.


Singapore share prices closed 0.70 percent lower, weighed down by Wall Street's overnight decline on renewed worries the US economy may be cooling down faster than expected, dealers said.

The Straits Times Index fell 17.76 points to 2,520.50.

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