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Sun, Oct 08, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Holidays keep Asian markets quiet

REGIONAL TRADING After climbing to near record highs this week, Asian stocks lost some steam on Friday, with Seoul, Taipei and Shanghai closed for public holidays

AFP , HONG KONG

A trader gives the thumbs up at the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday. The Hang Seng Index on Friday shed 4.28 points to close at 17,903.39.

PHOTO: EPA

Asian stocks closed little changed on Friday with investors taking to the sidelines and consolidating on recent sharp gains as a range of further holidays get underway around the region.

Even another record close on Wall Street failed to maintain the momentum which has brought Asian markets to near record or multi-year highs, although dealers said underlying sentiment remained positive.

The mood was reflected in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Manila and Wellington, which all closed flat, while only slight gains were registered in Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Bangkok suffered mild losses due to a sell-down in its telecom sector after after a court agreed to hear a case that could strip telecom giant Shin Corp of its government concessions.

Seoul, Taipei and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.

TOKYO

Share prices closed little changed, holding near five-month highs as investors turned cautious ahead of US jobs data and a feared nuclear test by North Korea.

Dealers said investors were reluctant to take positions ahead of the three-day holiday weekend given Pyongyang's threat to test its first atom bomb.

The NIKKEI-225 index fell 13.27 points or 0.08 percent to 16,436.06.

Hideo Mizutani, chief strategist at Sieg Securities, said upcoming economic data, including Japanese capital spending numbers on Tuesday, were important for the market given worries over slowing US and Japanese economic growth.

The market expects Japanese core private-sector machinery orders to have risen by 11.3 percent in August from July.

HONG KONG

Share prices closed flat as the market took a breather after Thursday's strong rally, which lifted the benchmark index to its highest finish since July 2000.

Investors took some profit in China Mobile and select other blue chips but it was offset by rotational buying of some laggard stocks including Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong.

A positive lead from Wall Street overnight, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit another record close, also provided support though trading was rangebound ahead of key jobs data in the US later in the day.

The Hang Seng Index closed down 4.28 points at 17,903.39.

SYDNEY

Share prices closed flat as investors sold down banking stocks but bought into leading telco Telstra and the energy sector after commodity prices rose.

Some apprehension was evident ahead of key US employment data due later in the day and given speculation that North Korea could follow through on its announcement that it is ready to test a nuclear weapon. The SP/ASX 200 added 1.4 points to 5,219.3.

CMC Markets senior dealer James Foulsham said the market finished the week relatively flat after a fairly neutral lead from overseas markets overnight and a lack of any major local economic data out Friday.

"We saw a rally in base metals overnight with copper finishing over three percent higher," he said.

However, the market's two major miners, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, remained steady with many still cautious after a choppy week in base metal prices, Houlsham said.

SINGAPORE

Share prices edged closer to all-time highs, closing up 0.30 percent with investors taking their cue from another record close posted by the Dow Jones Industrial index.

Dealers said gains in selected blue chips and China stocks led the local market's gains.

The Straits Times index was up 7.82 points at 2,649.30.

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