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War Fears Continue to Impact Asian Markets - 2003-02-07


Markets in Asia finished the week mixed. Disappointing earnings figures in Korea and fears of war in the Persian Gulf saw exporters lose ground on Thursday and Friday.

Seoul's Kospi index ended Friday at 577, down 2.3 percent over the shortened trading week following the Lunar New Year holiday.

Craig Chan, an analyst with Forecast Asia, says he expects growth prospects in Korea to worsen, particularity if the United States goes to war with Iraq.

"Korea's been hit on two fronts: the tensions with North Korea and also the global uncertainty. In terms of outlook for L.G. Electronics, for example, we had some pretty disappointing quarterly results and that basically highlights the fact that the external sector is showing continued signs of weakening in domestic demand in the U.S.," he explained.

Korea's SK Telecom dropped by more than five percent after announcing its investment plan for the coming year.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 1.1 percent over the week, but reversed a three-day losing streak on Friday to rise more than 20 points above Thursday's close, even though market heavyweight PCCW dropped more than one percent for the day. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange asked the company to explain why it had delayed disclosing information about a takeover approach to Britain's Cable and Wireless.

The Hang Seng ended the week at 9,151.

Singapore's Straits Times index lost more than two percent on Friday, but ended the week only marginally lower, at 1,285.

Japan's Nikkei 225 was the only gainer for the week among the major indexes. It finished 1.3 percent higher than the previous week, despite a drop on Friday to 8,448, with exporters losing ground.

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