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Asian Markets Close Week With Mixed Performance


Markets in Asia closed mixed this week. Investors are beginning to take note of not-so-good economic data following rallies in the equity markets last week.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up about two percent from a week ago.

The index gains came despite two severe shocks to the territory's financial system this week: The resignation of Hong Kong's Financial Secretary, Antony Leung, and the release of a record unemployment figure of nearly nine percent.

Robert Subbaraman, the senior vice president of Lehman Brothers Japan, says that while the index is staying above the psychologically important 10,000 point mark, rough waters are still ahead.

"Hong Kong's equity market has not rallied as much as Korea's or Taiwan's," he said. "I think that's partly because Hong Kong has more severe structural problems in its economy. But also I think the leadership uncertainty is also weighing on investor sentiment."

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's Nikkei 225 lost one percent over the week to end at 9,527 on Friday.

South Korea's Kospi Index lost five points on the week to finish Friday at 699. On Friday the index shed about two percent a day after North and South Korean soldiers exchanged gunfire across the demilitarized zone. Mr. Subbaraman says the tense geopolitical situation and new economic data dragged the market down.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty over the North Korea situation," explained Mr. Subbaraman. "Also we had some week economic data this morning. The unemployment rate came out for June and it rose to 3.6 percent, which is the highest level in 22 months."

The Philippine Stock Exchange composite index rose nine points from last week's close and finished at 1,285 on Friday. Traders say the boost came from the government's improving fiscal performance and hopes that government spending will stimulate the economy in the next few months.

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