Firm investor sentiment strengthens Asian stocks

ANTICIPATION: Some markets in Asia were boosted by speculation that the Fed may take a pause in raising interest rates after softer second-quarter US growth data


Sun, Sep 04, 2005 - Page 10

Asian stocks closed higher on Friday with underlying sentiment remaining firm as investors consolidated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, dealers said.

They said while oil prices remained high, some markets were boosted by speculation the US Federal Reserve is likely to halt interest rate rises sooner rather than later after softer second-quarter growth data and the devastation in New Orleans.

Taipei was bolstered by an appreciating local currency while investors continued to push Tokyo higher in anticipation of brighter economic prospects. Seoul also rose, on the back of solid economic data.

The TAIEX closed 1.37 percent higher on a technical rebound triggered by the appreciation of the local currency against the US dollar on Friday.

Dealers said the steel sector led the gains on hopes of price hikes for their products, making up for the technical correction in large-cap Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電).

"The leap in the Taiwan dollar sparked hopes that the [currency's] bottom had been tested," said Jack Tam, an assistant vice president with Yuanta Core Pacific Capital Management Co Ltd (元大京華投顧).

"It also ignited expectations of foreign capital inflows and gave a lift to the stock market," Tam added.

The TAIEX closed up 82.58 points at 6,116.05 on turnover of NT$72.34 billion (US$2.22 billion).

Tokyo share prices extended a winning streak, rising 0.74 percent to a new four-year high as recent surges in oil prices did little to dent confidence in Japan's economy.

Dealers said rising energy costs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were unlikely to derail Japan's economic recovery despite its dependence on oil imports.

The NIKKEI-225 index rose 93.03 points to close at 12,600.00, the highest level since July 5, 2001.

In Seoul share prices closed 0.86 percent higher, extending gains into a fourth day as concerns over the economic eased after strong second quarter figures. The KOSPI index closed up 9.46 points at 1,115.83.

Hong Kong share prices closed 0.52 percent higher as property stocks extended gains on hopes that upcoming residential project launches and a government land auction will boost the sector.

Dealers said retailers also gained on expectations of higher sales following the opening of the Disneyland theme park on Sept. 12.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 78.14 points at 15,221.89.

Sydney share prices closed 0.54 percent lower after breaching record levels earlier in the day in volatile trade.

Dealers said that strong overnight gains in commodity prices prompted buying in resources stocks but they, along with the banks, were then sold off for quick profit later in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed down 24.1 points at 4,473.6.

In Shanghai share prices extended gains, adding 0.33 percent on sustained follow-through buying interest.

The Shanghai A-share Index rose 4.09 points to 1,249.30, while the Shenzhen A-share Index was up 1.93 points or 0.65 percent at 296.77.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B-shares, closed up 3.92 points or 0.33 percent at 1,188.85.