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Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asian stocks finish fourth winning year

BREADWINNERS All of the Asian exchanges had a good run yesterday except for Hong Kong, Thailand and India, while Australia and Singapore experienced record highs

BLOOMBERG

Chicago White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, right, and Japanese Financial Services Minister Yuji Yamamoto, center, ring the bell to mark the closing of stock trading this year at the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday. The Nikkei 225 stock index completed its longest yearly winning streak since 1989.

PHOTO: AP

Asian stocks advanced to a seven-month high, completing a fourth straight year of gains.

Canon Inc, the world's largest digital-camera manufacturer, and LCD-maker AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) climbed after consumer confidence rose in the US.

"The US economy has showed resilience and will remain a key buyer for Asian goods in 2007," said Jerry Chen, the Taipei-based head of funds management at First Global Investment Trust Co (元大投信), which manages US$2.5 billion in assets.

"Electronic makers will benefit from demand for new gadgets like game consoles," he said.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index rose 0.4 percent to 140.74 at 5:21pm in Tokyo, set for the highest close since May 11. The measure has risen 15 percent this year, its fourth annual gain. That's the longest stretch since calculations of that measure began in 1988.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 1.02 point to 17,225.83, completing the longest yearly winning streak since 1989, as Toyota Motor Corp surged to a record on the outlook for demand.

China's Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 Index climbed 3.1 percent to its highest ever, more than doubling this year.

China United Telecommunications Corp (中國聯通), advanced after the Xinhua news agency reported China would introduce the latest wireless phone services next year.

MSCI Asia-Pacific has climbed 21 percent since its low for the year on June 13 as the US Federal Reserve stopped raising interest rates and expansion in China and India, the world's fastest-growing major economies, powered demand for raw materials, goods and services.

All markets open in the region advanced yesterday, except in Hong Kong, India and Thailand. Stock measures in Australia and Singapore also rose to record highs. Japan, Australia and New Zealand had shortened hours in the last trading day of this year, while Indonesia and South Korea are closed.

Canon rose 0.8 percent to ?6,700 (US$56.35).

The stock surged 46 percent this year, when adjusted for a stock split. AU Optronics, the world's third-biggest liquid-crystal display maker, added 1.1 percent to NT$45.30. Venture Corp, Singapore's biggest producer of customized electronics, climbed 0.8 percent to S$13.50 (US$8.81).

The US Conference Board's index of consumer confidence climbed to 109 this month, the highest since April, from a revised reading of 105.3 for last month.

Meanwhile, sales of previously owned homes gained 0.6 percent to a 6.28 million annual rate last month, after rising 0.5 percent in October, the National Association of Realtors said.

"These latest US economic figures are an indication that consumers are willing to spend more," said James Chua, who helps manage US$200 million at Phillip Capital Management in Singapore. "That benefits Asia's exporters because we derive a large part of our sales from the US."

The Shanghai and Shenzhen index has risen 122 percent this year, making China the stock market performing best in Asia after Vietnam. The economy grew more than 10 percent for a fourth straight year and the IMF has estimated it will expand at that pace next year, double the projected 4.9 percent global growth rate.

China United, which controls the nation's second-largest cell-phone operator, advanced 3.8 percent to 4.68 yuan (US$0.60). ZTE Corp (中興通訊), China's biggest publicly traded phone-equipment maker, gained 2.7 percent to 38.93 yuan.

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