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Asian Markets End Week Lower - 2002-12-13


Major markets in Asia ended mostly down for the week, with indictors of slowing economic growth in Japan pushing the Nikkei lower Friday. Hong Kong's main share index lost 2.4 percent during the week. Property companies continued to slide, erasing gains and hopes of an early recovery.

Eric Cheung, head of property research at HSBC Investment Bank, says government efforts in November to shore up the real estate market have done little to stop declines in stock prices. "The main thing the government did in November was to eliminate the intervention that used to be in the market," he said. "Even though they tried to stabilize the market through reduction of intervention, they already have a huge amount of stock overhang in the market."

The Hang Seng closed at 9,728.

Taiwan's Taiex closed 3 percent lower from a week ago, finishing at 4,588. Analysts say concerns that old economy stocks are overbought led investors to sell.

Tokyo's Nikkei also closed lower for the week, losing almost 4 percent since last Friday to end at 8,516.

Analysts in Japan cite weakening investor confidence as corporations slash their earnings forecasts. The Nikkei 225 lost 2.2 percent on Friday, following the release of the central bank's "Tankan" survey, which showed that major manufacturers expect business conditions to deteriorate further before they improve. Manufacturers that cater to the domestic market see their business as particularly vulnerable.

Figures released earlier this week show that Japan's economic growth slowed to 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter from 0.9 percent during the previous three months. Car manufacturer Honda shed close to 4 percent on the week's last day of trading.

Seoul's Kospi closed at 708, losing 10 points during the week.

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