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Asian Markets Finish Cautious Week


Asian financial markets were restrained over the past week, with investors cautious about where to put their money.

Asian markets generally treaded water in the past five sessions, with investors concerned about the slowing global economy and possible U.S. military retaliation for the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

In Tokyo, Asia's largest stock market, the Nikkei closed flat Friday, ending at 10,205.

Analysts say there are vague fears hanging over the market with players reluctant to trade, ahead of a long weekend. However, tech stocks performed well after positive news from Dell Computer in the United States.

Japan's biggest chipmaker, Toshiba, rose 5 percent and NEC, another leader in the sector, soared 5.5 percent after Dell said it would keep its profit forecast for the third quarter. In recent months, many tech companies have slashed earnings estimates because of weak global demand.

Taiwan was Asia's strongest performer Friday. It closed 2.6 percent higher. The news from Dell helped push shares for computer markers there, including Quanta and Acer.

Oliver Fang, research director for National Securities in Taipei, said that buying by government funds also helped. "The government always supports the market, especially as we head into the year-end election," he said. "The government is also talking about using a national stabilization fund (to further help the stock market) if there is a war between the United States and Afghanistan."

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell slightly to 10,277. Shares of real estate developers pushed the market lower after the territory's third largest developer, Henderson Land, said profits were declining.

South Korea's KOSPI edged slightly higher Friday while most markets in Southeast Asia chalked up small losses.

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