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Asian Markets End Week Mixed - 2003-12-05

Markets in Asia ended mixed for the week, with Tokyo and Taipei finishing higher, while Seoul and Hong Kong lost ground.

Thursday's announcement that OPEC, the world's most powerful oil cartel, would maintain present crude oil production slightly upset shares of petrochemical companies in Asia, but did not cause havoc with overall share prices in the region's oil importing economies.

Oil consuming countries feared the group might cut output and drive prices higher. Petrochemical companies listed on the Hong Kong and Taipei markets initially made gains based on those fears.

But Scott Weaver, a power sector analyst with ING investment bank in Taipei, says the petrochemical sector priced in OPEC's decision.

"The decision not to change quotas and production levels was generally in line with expectations," he said. "It appears to us that the outlook is a bit more bearish in terms of oil prices."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended flat on the week at 12,314.

Taipei's main share index ended the week at 5,900, a gain of 2.2 percent since last Friday's close.

The Nikkei 225 gained more than 2.5 percent by Friday's close at 10,373.

However, Japanese investors dumped electronic and technology shares on overnight news from the U.S. microchip giant Intel, which reported disappointing quarterly-revenue forecasts.

Investors in South Korea also reacted to Intel's failure to meet market expectations. High-tech giants Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor lost ground.

Seoul's Kospi index finish the week seven points lower, closing Friday at 789.