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Sun, May 25, 2008 - Page 10 News List

ASIA: Asia stocks end week lower on credit losses

CREDIT-CRUNCH CONCERN Concern over soaring oil prices and the possibility of a US recession is likely to extend losses on the Taiwanese market, analysts said

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , HONG KONG

Asian stocks fell this week, dragging the benchmark index to its biggest weekly decline in three months, on concern widening credit losses and rising fuel costs will hurt company earnings.

Macquarie Group Ltd, Australia’s largest securities company, declined after saying a 16-year streak of rising profits may be ending. Korean Air Lines Co slipped as prices of crude oil and jet fuel climbed to records.

“The credit-crunch concern hasn’t totally gone away,” said Marc Desmidt, Tokyo-based chief investment officer at BlackRock Japan Co, whose parent has about US$1 trillion in assets. “There’s an ongoing debate on the direction of oil prices, and so far the bulls have it right.”

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index lost 2.1 percent to 150.54 this week. Financial stocks declined 4.4 percent, the most among the index’s 10 industry groups, while energy companies rose 0.7 percent, the only group that gained.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average retreated 1.5 percent to 14,012.20. Benchmarks around the region fell in most markets. China’s CSI 300 Index had its worst week in five. Pakistan’s KSE 100 Index tumbled 8.8 percent after the central bank raised interest rates to tame inflation at a 25-year high. Vietnam’s VN Index slumped for 15 days straight to its lowest since August 2006.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific is down 4.6 percent this year amid speculation mounting credit losses and a slowdown in the U.S. economy will hurt profit growth. Banks and brokerages worldwide have declared US$382.6 billion of losses and writedowns tied to credit-market investments.

Taiwanese share prices are expected to extend losses next week as market sentiment has been dampened by worries over soaring international crude oil prices, dealers said on Friday.

Concerns over Wall Street performances amid fears of a US economic recession are likely to further impact on local market movements by prompting foreign institutional investors to sell, they said.

Market bears could continue to target the bellwether electronic sector which remains undervalued.

For the week to Friday, the TAIEX closed down 362.68 points, or 3.94 percent, for the week, after a 4.61 percent rise a week earlier.

TAIPEI

Taiwanese share prices on Friday closed 1.92 percent lower from the previous day, dealers said.

The weighted index closed down 173.30 points at the day’s low of 8,834.73 on turnover of NT$148.28 billion.

TOKYO

Japanese shares closed narrowly mixed as investors turned cautious ahead of the weekend, amid ongoing jitters about the outlook for the US economy and world oil prices, dealers said.

The Nikkei-225 gained 33.74 points or 0.24 percent to end at 14,012.20. The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares slipped 2.98 points or 0.22 percent to 1,376.69.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong share prices closed 1.31 percent lower, dealers said.

The Hang Seng index closed down 329.05 points, at 24,714.07.

SYDNEY

Australian shares dropped 1.0 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 lost 58.9 points to close at 5,768.0 and the broader All Ordinaries shed 53.8 points to 5,866.2.

SHANGHAI

Chinese share prices closed down 0.36 percent, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, dropped 12.54 points at 3,473.09, ending the week down 4.2 percent.

The Shanghai A-share Index lost 0.36 percent at 3,644.39. The Shenzhen A-share Index fell 1.12 percent at 1,105.06 .

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