Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian bourses end mostly lower as investors cash in

REGIONAL TRADING Hong Kong and Shanghai were among the losers on Friday, although the focus was firmly on ICBC, which began trading on both exchanges

AFP , HONG KONG

Traders take orders at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Oct. 10. Hong Kong share prices closed 56.19 points lower as investors locked in profits after the benchmark index hit an all-time high in the morning session, dealers said.

PHOTO: AFP

Asian stocks closed mostly lower on Friday with investors cashing in on the recent rally which sent regional benchmarks to record and multi-year highs.

Dealers said there was also increasing concern over the US economy and whether Wall Street can sustain its record run which resulted in another all-time best finish overnight.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were among the losers on the day, although the focus was firmly on Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國工商銀行), which began trading on both exchanges after holding the world's biggest ever public offer.

Elsewhere, Taipei was flat, Tokyo was down 0.18 percent, Sydney fell 0.58 percent and Seoul was 0.33 percent lower.

Wellington bucked the trend and rose 0.38 percent after its central bank decided earlier in the week to keep interest rates on hold. Manila gained 0.72 percent and continued trading at its highest levels in more than nine years.

Jakarta was closed for a public holiday.

TAIPEI

Share prices closed little changed in moderate trade as investors locked in early gains driven by the overnight strength in US equities, especially technology bellwethers on the NASDAQ.

Local technology heavyweights, led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), Acer Inc, Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), were in the spotlight on foreign investor buying.

The weighted index was up 5.90 points at 7,086.74 on turnover of NT$85.86 billion (US$2.59 billion).

"Like yesterday, investors remained reluctant to help push the upside further ahead of a weekend and before the Taiwan stock index futures settlement on the Singapore Exchange," said Alvin Teng (鄧可欣), an assistant vice president with SinoPac Securities Corp (建華證券).

But the caution does not signal an imminent downturn, he said, adding that the prospect of a resumed upswing well into next month remains intact.

With earnings uncertainties out of the way, investors are likely to move away from the sidelines soon, he said.

"More funds should be released for Taipei and other regional markets now that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has made a strong debut in Hong Kong," Teng added.

TOKYO

Share prices closed down 0.85 percent as investors opted to pocket gains despite the fresh highs posted overnight on Wall Street.

The NIKKEI-225 index fell 142.53 points to 16,669.07. Volume rose slightly to 1.79 billion shares from 1.78 billion on Thursday.

Masatoshi Sato, senior strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities, said the market reaction to earlier corporate earnings had been generally lackluster.

Dealers said some fund managers appeared to have shifted funds to China for the world record-breaking public offer of the ICBC in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Subdued local inflation data weighed on shares of banks because the figures reduced the possibility that the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates again this year, said Ryuta Otsuka, strategist at Toyo Securities.

SEOUL

Share prices closed 0.33 percent lower as Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor tumbled on worries over their memory chip business outlook.

Dealers said the fall was sparked by Deutsche Bank downgrading its rating on Hynix to "hold" from "buy" after Hynix issued solid third-quarter results.

The brokerage warned that chip prices had peaked and investment in production lines might lead to a supply glut early next year.

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