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Japanese Nikkei Average Ends at a Four Month Low - 2002-02-01

A gloomy Japanese market cast a shadow across Asia Friday, with the Nikkei Average ending at a four month low.

The bears ruled the trading floors in Japan Friday, with NEC, the nation's number one computer maker, leading the fall. The stock dropped 11-percent Friday, after it warned of deteriorating earnings.

NEC's rivals, Fujitsu and Toshiba also slid, falling at least three percent each.

Japan's Topix stock index fell to 956, its lowest level in nearly 17 years, while the Nikkei Average dropped two percent to its worst level since September 28th.

Japanese finance officials were also eyeing the currency markets Friday and calling for calm as the yen traded around 135, a new three year low.

Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa says that "the yen's fall was sharp and that he does not know why it has dropped so quickly."

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended with a loss of a third of one percent. Investors sold the Bank of East Asia which will report earnings next week. Computer maker Legend Holdings also fell on profit worries. Analysts say it may be losing market share.

Korean traders pushed the Kospi index down more than four percent this week. Pohang Iron & Steel and SK Telecom both lost ground Friday. But Hynix Semiconductor, the most active stock of the day, vaulted more than seven percent on renewed hopes for a tie-up with Germany's Infineon Technologies.

In Taiwan, the Weighted Price Index dropped a quarter of one percent to 5857. The market traded higher for most of the session thanks to recent gains in U.S. stocks.