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Asian Markets End Week Sharply Lower


Stock trading on Friday was mostly flat across Asia as eyes turned toward the World Cup quarter finals. Earlier in the week, Asia markets fell rapidly after American technology giants announced they would revise forecasts.

Major Asia markets ended the weak sharply lower than they began it. Most of the losses came Wednesday following news that U.S. semiconductor giant Advanced Micro Devices and Apple Computer said their earnings forecasts for the quarter were too optimistic. Technology shares pulled markets down in Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo.

"There's downside risks to sales and profitability for not only the second quarter, but there's some concerns on the recovery for the second half of the year so I'd say that overall risk to technology in general is still to the downside," said Kent Chan, head of research at Solomon Smith Barney Taiwan.

Trading Friday was lackluster as attention in much of Asia turned to the World Cup quarterfinals match, in which Brazil beat Britain.

In Tokyo, stocks fell sharply Friday morning because of Wall Street's weakness. The Nikkei closed down five percent from last Friday's end, to finish this week at 10,354. Electronics giant Sony Corp plunged four percent.

In Seoul the Kospi ended at 778, also down five percent from last Friday's close.

Taipei's main share index finished Friday at 5,460, about two percent down from a week ago. Mr. Chan says orders for Taiwan's high technology exports are still likely to weaken.

"In Taiwan we started getting orders, restocking orders for motherboards, PC's and different products and that continued through December and into January," he said. "But going into late February and into March things started slowing down again."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also succumbed to selling pressure this week. Investors there continue to worry about the strength of the economic recovery in the United States, the major market for Hong Kong's exports.

On Friday the Hang Seng closed at 10,591, down three percent from last week's end.

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