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Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks mixed as Tokyo saps sentiment

REGIONAL In Taipei, positive growth figures for the third quarter ending September contributed to mostly bullish trading, with analysts expecting a liquidity-driven rally

AFP , HONG KONG

A passer-by looks at the electronic stock board of a securities firm in downtown Tokyo on Friday. The benchmark NIKKEI 225 fell 179.63 points to 15,734.60 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Asian stocks closed mixed in lackluster trading on Friday with profit takers cashing up on the latest sharp rally and with weakness in Tokyo weighing on sentiment.

Tokyo slumped 1.13 percent with investors growing increasingly concerned about the state of the Japanese economy and this knocked Singapore off its record high by 0.83 percent.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the US also left the regional markets without its most important lead and elsewhere Sydney fell 0.24 percent, Bangkok was down 0.69 percent, Wellington eased 0.19 percent while Hong Kong was flat.

However, Kuala Lumpur continued its rally on brighter economic prospects and rose 1.33 percent. Slight gains were registered in Taipei, Mumbai, Manila and Seoul as Jakarta surged 0.80 percent and closed at another record high.

TAIPEI

Share prices closed up 0.58 percent, extending recent gains on follow-through interest from foreign investors.

The weighted index closed up 42.67 points at 7,427.36 on turnover of NT$103.89 billion (US$3.17 billion).

"The market has apparently taken its lead from the avid interest shown by foreign investors lately," SinoPac Securities Corp (永豐金證券) assistant vice president Alvin Teng (鄧可欣) said.

Dealers said stronger-than-expected economic growth data for the third quarter to September also contributed to the generally bullish trading undertone.

GDP rose 5.02 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, compares with the previous official growth estimate of 4.39 percent.

Sentiment was consolidating for a further push upside as traders believe the market could breach its May high of 7,476 points given a current flow of capital into this part of the world, he said.

"I think we are going to have some sort of a liquidity-driven rally, with the pace likely to hasten and slow down alternately, between Thanksgiving and the Lunar New Year, which falls in February 2007," Teng said.

TOKYO

Share prices closed down 1.13 percent within sight of two-month lows as investors fretted over the course of the local economy and the recent strength of the yen.

Dealers said buyers were scarce in the absence of leads following Thursday's market holidays in the US and Japan.

The NIKKEI-225 fell 179.63 points to 15,734.60.

Investors were worried about the impact on exporter earnings of the yen's recent rise to around ?116 to the US dollar when just a month ago it was trading near the ?120 level, dealers said.

"The ?116/dollar level is not the level that would decisively hurt exporters' earnings," said Masayoshi Sato, senior strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities.

"But because there was also nervousness about the health of the economy, its negative effect on the market was accelerated," he added.

Banks were sold off because of their lackluster results.

SEOUL

Share prices closed 0.18 percent higher, with foreign investor selling pressure largely offset by strong institutional support.

Dealers said losses in Kookmin Bank put the market on the defensive after US private equity fund Lone Star cancelled a US$7.4 billion deal to sell Korea Exchange Bank to South Korea's largest lender.

Lone Star cited an ongoing investigation by South Korean prosecutors into its original purchase of KEB for its withdrawal from the contract.

The KOSPI index added 2.50 points at 1,421.73.

HONG KONG

Share prices closed flat amid profit-taking in selected China financial and local property stocks with sharp losses on the Tokyo bourse weighing on sentiment.

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