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Iraq Hostage Crisis Has Chilling Effect on Japanese, S. Korean Markets - 2004-04-09


A hostage crisis in Iraq chilled stock markets in Japan and South Korea Friday. Other markets entered a long holiday weekend slightly up for the week.

Japan's Nikkei index slipped 1.6 percent on Friday, to 11,897.

Investors in Japan are closely watching how the government deals with a hostage crisis in Iraq. Insurgents are warning they will burn three Japanese hostages alive if Tokyo does not withdraw its troops deployed in Iraq.

Still, the Nikkei ended the week 80 points higher than last Friday's close.

The South Korean Kospi index slipped 1.25 percent to 905 points, led mainly by a drop in Samsung shares. South Korean authorities say the Japanese hostage crisis is not changing their plans to deploy about three thousand troops to Iraq.

Taiwan's Weighted Share Index dipped by more than 0.75 percent on Friday, to 6,620. The index ended the week 75 points higher than last week's close.

Markets were closed Friday in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Philippines to mark the Good Friday holiday before Easter.

All three markets were up from a week earlier. For the predominantly Catholic Philippines, the Easter holiday brings an especially short trading week: Manila's PSE Composite ended the week on Tuesday, up nearly 2 percent, to 1,516. Hong Kong closed the week up nearly 200 points, at 12,909.

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