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Asian Markets End Week Mixed - 2003-09-05


Stock markets in Hong Kong and Tokyo continued to climb this week while those in Seoul and Taipei showed signs of consolidation.

Seoul's main stock market index leveled off this week after three weeks of gains. Traders say the Kospi index met resistance around the 770 point level, but still managed to add a couple of points over the past five days to close Friday at 761.

Robert Subbaraman is an equities analyst with Lehman Brothers in Tokyo. He says South Korea's economy is showing signs of recovery, and the improved business sentiment is reflected in the stock market.

"The economy bottomed out in the second quarter," he explained. "I think the market has been driven by positive economic data out of the U.S., which is good for Korean exports."

The Taiex, Taiwan's main share index, shed 11 points over the week as a result of profit taking. It ended Friday at 5,639.

Mr. Subbaraman says the strength of the Taiex, which has risen more than 1,000 points over the past twelve months, reflects the an anticipated global rebound in demand for technology.

"Taiwan's got a very tech-heavy economy," said Mr. Subbaraman. "[The] electronics industry has done very well in outsourcing its production to China, which has helped it lower its costs and maintain a competitive edge. Taiwan's equity market is benefiting quite substantially from signs that global IT [information technology] demand is going to improve."

Japan's Nikkei 225 average rose three percent for the week to finish at 10,650. But it succumbed to profit taking on Friday, with selling in bank shares erasing most of the day's gains.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also came under selling pressure on Friday, but managed to hold onto a 2.2 percent gain on the week, to end Friday at 11,154.

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