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Asia Stocks End Week on Solid Footing


Most stock markets in Asia ended the week on solid footing. Trading is still largely influenced by the direction of Wall Street and concerns over the U.S. led war on terrorism.

Asian investors were in a buying mood Friday, lifting most of the region's stock markets higher. From Tokyo to Singapore to Taiwan, equity markets scored gains in the wake of a surge on the U.S. Nasdaq Thursday.

Hugh Young, a Singapore-based fund manager with Aberdeen Asset Management, said that long-term concerns are still looming, with many investors worried about terrorism and events in Afghanistan. However, he noted that many Asian stocks are now attractively priced and he expects the buying to continue. On a day to day basis, the markets are very much following Wall Street and events in Afghanistan, he said. I think looking beyond the short term, a lot is looking towards the timing of economic recovery. In general, Asian markets are discounting a full blown recession well into 2002. Providing we see some evidence of recovery in Asia in the second half of next year, Asia's equity markets actually look very cheap at these levels.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index ended with a strong gain Friday. It rose two-point-seven percent to end at 10,632, its best level since September 6. Technology related shares drove the rally.

Chip stocks in South Korea also gained ground, although the overall KOSPI index fell a fraction. Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest chip manufacturer, climbed 2.5 percent.

Stocks in Taiwan edged up a third of a percent. The market has tacked on eight-percent in the past three sessions. In Singapore the Straits Times Index closed with a 1.5 percent gain after the government unveiled a $6 billion stimulus package to boost the city-state's troubled economy.

In the Asian currency market the U.S. dollar was steady. Comments from Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa that a slightly weaker yen might be preferable helped sentiment. Recently the Bank of Japan has intervened repeatedly to stop the yen from strengthening. A strong yen makes Japanese exports less competitive and could hurt the corporate profits of Japanese firms.

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