Sun, Aug 26, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks hit five-year high on bullish sentiment

RETREAT In Taipei, concern about the lingering US subprime mortgage crisis offset interest fueled by the government's upward revision of its growth forecast

BLOOMBERG ANF AFP , HONG KONG AND TAIPEI

An investor chats with an associate at a private securities company in Shanghai on Friday. Chinese stocks rose to another record close on Friday on strong demand from securities funds, despite signs the country's central bank may be poised to tighten credit again.

PHOTO: AP

Asian stocks posted their biggest weekly gain in more than five years on growing confidence growth in the US economy will be sustained after the US Federal Reserve cut its discount rate.

Macquarie Bank Ltd and Mizuho Financial Group Inc led financial shares higher on speculation the central bank will take further steps to prevent a spread in losses related to US subprime, or higher risk, mortgages. BHP Billiton Ltd climbed after it reported a record profit and said the global credit squeeze is unlikely to derail a five-year commodity-price rally.

"Investors' fears of the US subprime crisis have subsided," said Eric Chou, who helps manage US$1.8 billion at Jih Sun Securities Investment Trust Co (日盛投信) in Taipei. "The storm will eventually go away, along with its impact on consumer demand."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index posted its biggest weekly gain in almost nine years after China's government said it will let some of the nation's individual investors buy the city's securities. China Life Insurance Co led the advance.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 8.1 percent to 148.25, as all 10 industry groups advanced. The measure, which lost 15 percent in the previous four weeks, completed its best week since March 2002.

TAIPEI

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.49 percent lower as investors retreated from building up positions after seeing markets around the region declining over the lackluster performance on Wall Street overnight.

Dealers said lingering worries over the US housing mortgage defaults triggered local selling, offsetting initial trading interest spurred by the government's upward revision of the economic growth forecast for this year.

The government announced on Thursday it was raising its GDP growth forecast for the year to 4.58 percent from the previous estimate of 4.38 percent.

The TAIEX shed 42.75 points to 8,690.09 on turnover of NT$131.70 billion (US$3.99 billion).

TOKYO

Japanese share prices closed down 0.41 percent as market players waited for upcoming US housing data amid renewed concern over mortgage defaults in the world's largest economy.

Dealers said the market contained wider losses as some investors bought on dips the day after the market rebounded strongly from the recent global turmoil.

The NIKKEI-225 index fell 67.35 points to 16,248.97.

HONG KONG

Share prices closed 0.20 percent weaker but well off the session's lows, as investors exercised caution ahead of the weekend amid renewed concerns over the fallout of US subprime mortgage sector troubles.

Dealers said comments by the chief executive officer of troubled US mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp that the US housing sector slump could tip the economy into a recession helped push the market lower.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 45.08 points at 22,921.89.

SHANGHAI

Chinese share prices closed 1.49 percent up to record a fifth straight day of gains after the benchmark Shanghai index breached 5,000 points for the first time the previous day.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 75.17 points at 5,107.67.

SEOUL

South Korean shares closed down but well off their lows, with retail investors partially offsetting continued selling by foreign investors amid global credit jitters.

The KOSPI index ended 8.39 points or 0.5 percent lower at 1,791.33.

SYDNEY

Australian share prices shed 1.2 percent as investors took profits after four straight days of gains.

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