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Australian and South Korean Stocks Close Lower Friday - 2002-02-15

Australian and South Korean stocks close lower Friday after surging earlier in the week.

Australian stocks rose to a record intra-day high of 3,506 Thursday on confidence about the earnings outlook for the nation's corporate sector.

But the market fell back Friday as investors sold some of the largest blue chip shares. It closed with a fractional loss on heavier-than-usual volume.

Analysts say that steady earnings growth, a rising Australian currency and falling international bond yields will help push the market higher in the coming weeks.

In Seoul, stocks advanced to a 19-month high Thursday but lost ground Friday. The Kospi index ended at 783, a loss of 1.5 percent. Traders flooded the market with shares of Hynix Semiconductor, which tumbled 15 percent, its daily limit. Investors are concerned that the sale of its memory-chip division could leave the company with few assets.

In Tokyo, the market fell a third of one percent. Yasuya Ueno, chief economist at Mizuho securities, told TV Tokyo that investors are watching for President Bush's upcoming summit with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He says that "Japan is supposed to explain to the United States how it plans to tackle deflation." He adds that "the stock market could deteriorate if the government does not also unveil steps to clean up bad loans and loosen monetary policy."

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose on the first trading day following the Lunar New Year holidays. It climbed one percent on hopes that a stronger U.S. economy will help the territory's business sector. The Hong Kong economy is strongly linked to the United States because its currency is pegged to the dollar.