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Asian Markets Weekly Highlights - 2001-10-19

Shares of South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor closed sharply higher Friday even though the company revealed a loss of more than one billion dollars in the third quarter of the year.

Leading the gainers in South Korea Friday was Hynix Semiconductor, which soared six-percent. The company announced its largest ever quarterly loss Friday, but it reassured investors with plans to sell surplus factories to Chinese buyers.

South Korea's overall stock market also rose Friday, with the main Kospi index ending three-quarters of a percent higher. The tech-heavy Kosdaq gained more than one-percent.

In Japan, technology-related shares also helped to lift the market. Computer and chipmaker Toshiba rose nearly seven-percent, partly on hopes for a possible merger with Germany's Infineon Tehnologies.

Japan's Nikkei Average rose a fraction to close at 10,538. Japanese drug stocks performed strongly. New cases of anthrax exposure in the United States have heightened expectations for higher demand for antibiotics. Kyorin Pharmaceutical gained more than eight-percent.

But gloomy economic news overshadowed Japan's market activity. Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa warned reporters that the economy is faltering. "We have received a side-blow from world events. Unfortunately, I must say that we are unavoidably heading toward negative growth," Shiokawa said.

The finance minister has said that Japan will take several steps to revitalize its economy, but Parliament must approve the measures.

Elsewhere in Asia, markets were subdued, with the focus on the U.S. led war on terrorism and weak earnings. Taiwan's stock market closed with a gain of almost one-percent. Bellwether Taiwan Semiconductor fell 1.7 percent. Computer maker Acer rose three-percent after it said it could break even in the last quarter of the year.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended half a percent lower. Bank shares dropped on a report that earnings for the second half of the year are likely to weaken. Mobile phone company China Mobile and its rival China Unicom both gained after they promised regulators they would stop cutting prices illegally to win customers.