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Sun, May 18, 2008 - Page 10 News List

ASIA: Asia stocks gain on takeover talk, profit forecasts

REGIONAL INDICATORS The TAIEX gained 4.61% percent for the week, and is expected to keep rising as investors anticipate improved ties with China

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , HONG KONG AND TAIPEI

Asian stocks rose every day this week on speculation of takeovers among mining companies and after technology companies forecast profits will increase.

BHP Billiton Ltd climbed to a record after The Australian newspaper reported Chinese interests want to team up with an Australian fund to purchase a 9 percent stake.

Sony Corp, the world’s second-biggest maker of consumer electronics, climbed after it said operating profit will gain 20 percent this year. Fujitsu Ltd rose after it forecast profit will more than double.

“You’ll see a lot more M&A activity as more players come in,” said Hugh Young, who oversees US$52 billion as managing director of Aberdeen Asset Asia in Singapore. “Fundamentals here in Asia look strong.”

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index advanced 3.3 percent to 153.80 this week. Materials producers gained 4.1 percent, the most among the index’s 10 industry groups, while technology companies rose 1.7 percent.

Taiwanese share prices are expected to extend their momentum next week as investors remain upbeat over cross-strait relations after president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) takes office on Tuesday, dealers said on Friday.

The market anticipates Ma will in his inaugural speech detail plans to allow more Chinese tourists, lift a ban on cross-strait direct transport links, and relax China-bound investment restrictions, they said.

Foreign investors were expected to increase their positions in electronic and financial heavyweights and boost the broader market after being held in the sidelines in recent trade.

The benchmark could encounter technical pressure as it moves closer to the crucial 9,400-point level with any downside likely to see a floor at around 9,050 points.

For the week to Friday, the weighted index closed up 405.02 points or 4.61 percent at 9,197.41 after a 1.91 percent fall a week earlier.

“Embracing high hopes on better ties with China, foreign investors are likely to dominate market movements next week as they did this week,” Grand Cathay Securities Co (大華證券) analyst Mars Hsu said.

Apart from highly weighted electronic and financial stocks favored by foreign investors, Hsu said, tourism, transport and property sectors may also benefit from positive market sentiment.

TAIPEI

Taiwanese share prices closed 0.44 percent higher from Thursday, dealers said.

The TAIEX closed up 40.23 points at 9,197.41 on turnover of NT$180.87 billion.

TOKYO

Japanese share prices closed narrowly mixed as investors locked in gains after the benchmark index hit a four-month high a day earlier in tandem with recent gains on Wall Street, dealers said.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 index fell 32.26 points or 0.23 percent to end at 14,219.48, but the broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares gained 3.00 points or 0.22 percent to 1,395.87.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong share prices closed up 0.41 percent, dealers said.

The Hang Seng index closed up 105.15 points at 25,618.86.

SYDNEY

The Australian share market rose 0.7 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark SP/ASX 200 gained 40.3 points to close at 5,931, while the broader All Ordinaries climbed 41.2 points to 6,006.1.

SHANGHAI

Chinese share prices closed down 0.36 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, closed down 13.09 points at 3,624.23.

The Shanghai A-share Index was down 0.36 percent at 3,802.85. The Shenzhen A-share Index fell 0.79 percent at 1,181.63.

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