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Asian Markets Remain Mostly Unchanged - 2004-03-19

Markets in Asia ended mostly firm for the week. Taiwan closed higher ahead of Saturday's presidential elections, but trading ended before the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian during a campaign trip.

Taiwan's main share index, the Taiex, closed at 6,815 - 15 points above last week's close.

The market closed about an hour before an unknown attacker shot Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian in the stomach as he campaigned for Saturday's election.

Neal Stovicek, an equities analyst at Sinopec Securities in Taipei, says it is too early to tell how the market may react when it opens Monday.

But he says many analysts view major Taiwan stocks as undervalued. "The various candidates for president and vice president were running neck and neck in the run up to the elections," he said. "Various strategists were recommending to look beyond the elections and to look at the fundamentals in Taiwan's electronics stocks."

South Korea's main share index shrugged off volatility on Wall Street and worries over the impeachment of the country's president.

The Kospi ended at 883, about four percent higher than last week's close. Traders say foreign investors helped edge the index above the psychologically important 880-point level.

Japan ended the week more than 2.2 percent higher. The Nikkei closed at 11,418.

Hong Kong's main share index closed lower on the week, after market heavyweight Hutchison Whampoa announced its third-generation mobile phone venture had suffered a loss of more than $1 billion.

The Hang Seng finished Friday at 12,790.