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US Market Declines Drag Asian Stock Prices Down - 2002-02-22

Stock markets in Asia ended the week mostly lower, dragged down by market declines in the United States.

Several major Asian stock markets fell Friday in reaction to Wall Street's overnight sell-off.

Regional strategist Julian Mayo in Hong Kong says investors in Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore became bearish after the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled nearly 3.5 percent.

"The overall chart of Nasdaq has led other markets, which are tech sensitive in Asia, downwards," he explained. "The Japanese electronics sector has come under pressure, the Taiwanese electronics sector has also come under pressure. So, the tech side of Asia is following the movements of the Nasdaq."

In Taiwan, the Weighted Price Index lost .81 percent to close at 5,609. Singapore's Straits Times Index also fell losing 2.4 percent to close at 1,690.

In Hong Kong, the blue chip Hang Seng fell slightly more than 1 percent, closing at 10,664. Analysts say investors were reacting to Thursday's announcement that Hong Kong's unemployment rate is now at a record 6.7 percent and is likely to stay high for the foreseeable future.

In the Philippines, shares finished sharply lower, following news that the largest pension fund in the United States is divesting its investments in the country. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 3.3 percent to close at 13-96.

The news was slightly better elsewhere in Asia.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index opened weaker Friday as investors indulged in profit-taking following the Nikkei's 4.7 percent surge the day before. But the index rose in late afternoon trading on optimism that the Japanese government will come up with a comprehensive plan to combat deflation.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's package, scheduled for release next Wednesday, is expected to include measures to clean up bad loans by Japanese banks.

The Nikkei closed up .6 percent to 1,356.

In Seoul, the benchmark Kospi rose on buying by institutional investors. The index rose .6 percent to 792.