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Asian Stocks Lower at Week's End - 2002-05-31


In Asia, most markets ended down this week with the start of the World Cup being blamed for some of the losses in Korea, while a strong yen drove export shares lower in Japan.

In Tokyo the Nikkei ended at 11,763, a 1.8 percent slide from last Friday's close.

Moody's Investor service downgraded the nation's domestic debt rating on Friday, but the announcement had little effect on the market. Instead, much of the loss over the week was in export shares, which are being hurt by a stronger yen. A stronger currency makes a country's exports more expensive.

Nissan motor company fell 5.4 percent while its competitor Toyota lost 2.9 percent Friday.

In Taiwan, the market closed at 5,675, down 31 points from last Friday's close. Analysts blamed profit-taking following a surge in financial stocks on Thursday.

Taiwan investors also are steering clear of technology shares. Rajiv Gupta, an analyst with Goldman Sachs Hong Kong, said this is a normally a weak period for tech stocks because sales slow down over the summer. He notes, however, that Taiwan's tech sector has performed relatively well this year.

"If you look at it on a relative sense, a lot of these Asian companies have performed very well over the last six to 12 months. For instance, Taiwan semiconductors are up 35 percent over the last 12 months," Mr. Gupta said.

Mr. Gupta said that technology shares in other markets, particularly the United States, have not fared as well this year.

In South Korea, stocks sagged to a three-month low, with the Kospi ending at 796, nearly seven percent below last Friday's close. Samsung Electronics fell 3.6 percent. And retail shares slumped amid worries that consumers will stay home to watch the World Cup this month instead of going out to shop.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down for the third day in a row. It finished 2.8 percent below last Friday's close, at 11,301. Apprehension about the United States' economic recovery forced most major Hong Kong shares lower, and losses for the week were spread among all sectors.

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