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Asian Markets End Week Mixed - 2004-04-23

Markets in Asia ended mixed Friday with Tokyo and Seoul seeing significant gains. Improved investor sentiment in Hong Kong and Taiwan late in the week did not completely erase losses at the start of the week.

South Korea's Kospi index closed at 936 on Friday - four percent higher than last week's finish.

Traders noted that a serious train accident in North Korea had little impact on South Korean shares. They say Seoul's main share index got a boost from institutional investors, hitting a two-year high at one point on Friday.

Japan's main share index added 2.5 percent this week. On Friday, the Nikkei surged just over one percent to close at 12,120.

Hiromichi Shirokawa, the Japan economist for investment bank UBS Warburg, says good economic news helped shares of Japanese exporters.

"Macroeconomic data continues to show that the economy remains on the recovery track - during the first quarter exports increased by 12 to 13 percent year by year," he said.

Taiwan's main share index, the technology-heavy Taiex, ended marginally lower this week. It shed 12 points and closed Friday at 6,806.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rallied on Friday, adding more than 200 points. But the gains were not enough to erase earlier losses and the index ended at 12,383, 0.5 percent below last week's finish.

Traders say some tourism related stocks fell on fears of a fresh outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Beijing. SARS first appeared in late 2002 and infected about 8,000 people worldwide. Fears of the disease caused a serious dip in Asian travel and tourism related industries.

The stock price of Hong Kong's flagship airline Cathay Pacific was down 1.3 percent on Friday.