Sun, Nov 19, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks manage only limited gains

STATUS QUO The TAIEX closed slightly higher after moving largely sideways as investors continued a trend of avoiding pushing up prices and pocketing gains

AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks on Friday closed mostly higher, but gains were limited with regional benchmarks struggling to break through current resistance levels despite another record finish by Wall Street.

In most markets the trading band was narrow and followed a pattern set earlier in the week after equities struck a series of record and multi-year highs amid a rush of capital from outside the region.

Tumbling oil prices and tame US inflation data, additional evidence that the US Federal Reserve might cut interest rates, only sparked limited Asian interest with investors tending to focus on issues closer to home.

This was particularly the case in Japan, where lingering concerns over the local economic outlook resulted in Tokyo falling 0.45 percent while profit takers moved into Mumbai, where the benchmark fell 0.57 percent.

Slight gains were registered in Hong Kong and a modest rise in Singapore, enough for both markets to again close at record highs. Manila and Kuala Lumpur notched up their best closing levels in nine years.

Taipei, Seoul, Bangkok and Wellington ended the day little change, while Jakarta was up 0.20 percent, Kuala Lumpur by 0.31 percent and Sydney by 0.50 percent while Shanghai was the standout with a 1.55 percent gain.

TAIPEI

Share prices closed little changed in active trading, after moving largely sideways, as investors refrain from pushing share prices higher on the back of Wall Street's gains overnight and a further pull-back in oil prices.

The TAIEX closed 2.06 points higher at 7,259.54 on turnover of NT$105.36 billion (US$3.2 billion).

"As had been apparent over the past three sessions, investors would rather pocket the differences while they still could," said Oliver Fang, a Yuanta Core Pacific Securities (元大京華證券) assistant vice president who serves mainly foreign investors.

Against the backdrop of a generally bullish Wall Street, local shares managed to post moderate gains but could not convince investors to help attain a more dramatic upswing, he said.

As things stand, further rangebound consolidation appears likely in the near term as Wall Street is also unlikely to continue setting new highs persistently, he added.

TOKYO

Share prices fell 0.45 percent, hovering just above the key 16,000-point mark, on lingering concerns about the outlook for the economy.

Dealers said that the Japanese market erased early gains that were triggered by Wall Street's latest record performance as dealers opted to book profits for the third straight session.

While the Bank of Japan said on Thursday that the economy is expanding, some dealers asked if the central bank's reluctance to raise interest rates indicated it had doubts.

The NIKKEI-225 fell 72.14 points to finish at 16,091.73. Volume rose to 1.71 billion shares from 1.53 billion on Thursday.

Hideyuki Suzuki, a strategist at SBI Securities, said the market's recent bearish performance reflected a cooling of investor sentiment.

"Domestic demand is not that strong, meaning that companies that have subsidiaries overseas can fare well, but those that don't will suffer," he said.

"Overseas investors may have turned their gaze back to their home markets because their markets have been on a bull run," he added.

Hideo Mizutani, chief strategist at Sieg Securities, said that Japanese share prices failed to maintain a rally buoyed by another record-breaking performance on Wall Street.

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