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Asian Stocks Close Higher for the Week


Asia's leading stock market indexes ended the week higher. In Japan, equities were buoyed by positive economic data and a weakening currency.

The Nikkei 225 rose more than 200 points on Friday and ended the week at 11,041, about three percent higher than a week ago.

One economist says the gains came on the back of better investor sentiment because of positive economic data.

Japan reported that significant increases in manufacturing and production have created new jobs, boosting consumer confidence.

Hiromichi Shirakawa, the chief economist for the Tokyo branch of investment bank UBS Warburg, says the yen has shown signs of weakening against the dollar in recent days. A weaker currency means that exports from Japan will be cheaper. "Of course the weaker currency should help Japanese exporter's income," said the economist, "and in particular exporters stocks like electric machinery and automakers."

Investors in Taiwan shrugged off concerns over weakness in technology shares on Wall Street this week. Taipei's tech-heavy Taiex index gained one percent over the week to close Friday at 6,750.

South Korea's Kospi index finished 6 points higher than last week's close and ended Friday at 883. Traders reported that steel and automobile makers saw the greatest gains by the week's end. Losses on Wall Street and economic data indicating a slowing in industrial output had little effect on the market.

Hong Kong's main share index ended the week in positive territory, adding 39 points after a midweek slump. On Friday the Hang Seng finished at 13,907.

Real estate and developers made the biggest gains but investor and banking stocks also rose late Friday.

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