ASIA: Asian stocks fall for fifth week on growth concerns

RECESSION: The Federal Reserve's latest rate cut was not enough to halt the MSCI Asia Pacific Index's longest losing streak since August 2004

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , HONG KONG

Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 10

Asian stocks fell for a fifth week, completing their longest losing streak in more than three years, on concern the US and Japan are sinking into recessions.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc led a decline among financial stocks after reporting losses from subprime-related investments. Sony Corp slumped after cutting its target for operating profit. Datang International Power Generation Co (大唐國際發電) plunged after China's worst snowstorms in 50 years cut energy supplies.

"The two scenarios confronting investors are either that Japan and the US only briefly slip into recession or that it will be long-lasting," said Masayuki Kubota, who helps oversee about US$1.7 billion at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. in Tokyo.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.5 percent this week. The five-week, 7.1 percent retreat is the longest losing streak since August 2004. A half-percentage-point interest-rate cut by the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday to bolster growth wasn't enough to help the benchmark recover earlier losses.

China's CSI 300 Index plunged 10 percent, Asia's sharpest drop and its biggest weekly decline on record. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 1 percent. Benchmarks fell elsewhere in the region, except Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan.

A measure of financial stocks on MSCI's Asian index dropped 2.3 percent.

TAIPEI

Taiwanese share prices on Friday closed 2.03 percent higher from Thursday, dealers said.

The weighted index closed up 152.86 points at 7,673.99 on turnover of NT$123.10 billion (US$3.85 billion).

Alex Huang (黃國偉) of Mega International Investment Services (兆豐國際投顧) said a rising Taiwan dollar after aggressive US interest rate cuts had encouraged investors to back stocks.

TOKYO

Japanese share prices closed down 0.7 percent on Friday amid caution over key US jobs data and disappointing earnings news from companies including Sony Corp, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index fell 95.31 points to 13,497.16. The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares finished down 9.45 points, also a loss of 0.70 percent, at 1,336.86.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong share prices closed up 2.9 percent, dealers said.

The Hang Seng index closed up 667.84 points at 24,123.58.

Chinese financial markets will be closed from Wednesday until next Tuesday and the Hong Kong bourse will be shut Thursday and Friday next week for the Lunar New Year.

SYDNEY

Australian share prices closed up 3.4 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 gained 192.6 points to end at 5,842.9, while the broader All Ordinaries added 185.3 points to 5,882.3.

The S&P/ASX 200 dropped 10.9 percent and the All Ordinaries lost 11.3 percent last month.

SHANGHAI

Chinese share prices closed 1.43 percent lower, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index, which covers both A and B shares, closed down 62.63 points to 4,320.77.

The Shanghai A-share index fell 1.42 percent to 4,534.57.

The Shenzhen A-share index closed 2.84 percent lower at 1,339.46.

The Shanghai B-share index fell 2.22 percent to 295.81. The Shenzhen B-share index added 0.26 percent to 640.45.

SEOUL

South Korean share prices closed 0.6 percent higher, dealers said.

The KOSPI index gained 9.85 points to 1,634.53.

SINGAPORE

Singapore share prices closed 0.87 percent higher, dealers said.

The blue chip Straits Times index closed 26.05 points higher at 3,007.80.

BANGKOK

Thai share prices closed 3.40 percent higher, dealers said.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index gained 26.63 points to 810.86 and the blue-chip SET-50 added 21.42 points to 588.59.

MUMBAI

Indian share prices closed up 3.31 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark 30-share SENSEX index rose 584.71 points to 18,233.42.