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Sun, Oct 19, 2008 - Page 10 News List

ASIA: Asian stocks fall across the board on global worries

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , TAIPEI AND HONG KONG

Asian stocks rose for the first week in seven after money market rates fell as governments in the region stepped up efforts to unlock credit markets.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc and Westpac Banking Corp. rose more than 6 percent as Singapore and Malaysia joined Hong Kong and Australia in guaranteeing bank deposits. Tokyo Electric Power Co climbed 16 percent as oil prices traded at half their July record and investors sought companies whose earnings are sheltered from a slowdown in overseas markets. The decline in oil and metals prices dragged BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, down 11 percent.

“The focus is on what the next policy response will be and the movements of the short-term money markets,” said Naoteru Teraoka, who helps oversee US$21 billion at Chuo Mitsui Asset Management Co in Tokyo. “Long-term investors are sitting on the sidelines waiting out this period.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.6 percent to 87.29 last week, its first weekly gain since August.

The MSCI Asian index had its biggest-ever advance and decline last week, as investors weighed the likelihood that governments would succeed in preventing a financial industry collapse and limit the severity of a global economic slowdown.

TAIPEI

Taiwanese shares closed down 2.28 percent, dealers said.

The weighted index fell 115.57 points to 4,960.40 on turnover of NT$55.33 billion (US$1.70 billion). It was the lowest close since the index hit 4,872.15 on June 30, 2003.

The market opened sharply lower despite the Wall Street gains, dealers said.

Selling which largely focused on large cap stocks extended until the end of the trading session, pushing the index below 5,000 points, they said.

“The breach of the 5,000 key point level was very psychological to investors. After the downside, worries about further declines are running deeper,” Mega Securities analyst Alex Huang (黃國偉) said.

TOKYO

Japanese share prices rebounded 2.78 percent, dealers said.

A weaker yen gave a boost to exporters, but most investors were staying on the sidelines.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index climbed 235.37 points to end at 8,693.82, a day after plunging more than 11 percent, the biggest drop in two decades.

The TOPIX index of all first-section shares gained 29.77 points, or 3.44 percent, to 894.29.

While credit market tensions showed signs of easing, investors were worried that US and Japanese companies will report weak earnings in the next few weeks.

HONG KONG

Share prices closed 4.4 percent lower, dealers said.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index finished 676.31 points down at 14,554.21, as selling pressure overturned a 70 points gain around noon. Turnover was light at HK$59.35 billion (US$7.61 billion).

The index was down 1.6 percent for the week, with strong gains earlier in the week ebbing away. The huge 2,587-point range during the week highlighted the volatility as investors remained nervous.

SEOUL

South Korean shares closed 2.7 percent lower, analysts said.

The KOSPI index ended down 33.11 points at 1,180.67, its lowest close since Oct. 31, 2005. Volume was 411.93 million shares worth 6.42 trillion won (US$4.81 billion).

Sentiment was eased by the central bank’s move to supply dollars to more banks and after Moody’s decided to retain the country’s credit ratings outlook.

SYDNEY

Australian shares closed down 1.1 percent, analysts said.

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