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Asian Markets Rally But End Week Lower - 2002-10-11

After a bruising week, stock markets across Asia rallied on Friday following gains on Wall Street. Still, most key indexes ended the week lower, battered by the shutdown of U.S. ports and weak U.S. economic indicators.

South Korea's Kospi index dove almost 10 percent this week; closing Friday at 587.

Bank analyst Brian Husmaker, with Nomura Securities in Seoul, says the banking sector came under particular pressure early this week.

"In general the views are that the Korean banks have fairly weak balance sheets. There's a concern that if they deteriorate quickly they won't be able to absorb credit losses too well," he said.

Most Asian markets saw shares in exporters fall this week because of two-week shutdown of ports on the U.S. West Coast. With ports closed, Asian exports to the United States have backed up, creating fears of falling sales. In addition, weak U.S. economic data contribute to worries that Asian exports will decline.

Japan's troubled banking sector saw further selling this week, pushing the overall market lower.

The Nikkei 225 average fell 5.5 percent, ending at 8,529 on Friday, and near a 19-year low.

Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa says the government wants to prevent stocks from falling farther but cannot find ways to ease the losses.

The Bank of Japan said on Friday it intends to buy $16 billion worth of shares from Japan's troubled banks. The banks hold massive stock portfolios, and as share prices fall, the banks' balance sheets suffer.

Investors pushed Hong Kong's main share index higher on Friday after it reached a four-year low early in the week. The Hang Seng index ended Friday at 8,965. For the week, it was off one percent.

Taiwan's market lost ground on Friday and the Taeix ended the week 5.5 percent below its finish last week. It closed this week at 3,850 - near a 12-month low. Singapore's Straits Times Index managed to avoid big losses this week. It ended nearly even with its close last week, at 1,373. The market proved resilient despite disappointing economic growth figures for the city-state.