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Most Asian Markets Higher Friday; Japan Edges Lower - 2001-10-26

Most Asian markets ended in the plus column Friday - although Japan, the region's biggest market, ended lower after one corporate giant reported a $1 billion loss.

Electronics maker Toshiba unveiled a wider-than-expected loss Friday for the six months through September. The company attributes its $1 billion loss to falling prices in the global market for memory chips.

Toshiba shares fell nearly five percent Friday as it nearly doubled its full year loss forecast. That rattled the overall Nikkei index, pulling it down three-quarters of a percent to 10,795.

In the currency market, the dollar held on to recent gains, a relief to Japanese officials who fear that its recent weakness could hurt their U.S. bound exports.

Finance Ministry Spokesman Touhiko Kuroda told Japan's TV Tokyo that the government believes the U.S. economy remains fundamentally strong, while Japan's difficult economic conditions and its weak fundamentals now mean that a strong yen is not appropriate.

In other Asian markets the mood was generally upbeat. Taiwan stocks rose for the third day in a row, with tech stocks leading the way. The benchmark index rose three-quarters of a percent to 4,043. Volume rose to a five month high with traders commenting that the U.S. markets appear to have stabilized. Taiwanese electronics and financial stocks have both performed well in recent sessions.

In Seoul shares ended a fraction higher at 543. Mobile phone company SK Telecom rose almost three-percent on optimism for a strong third quarter earnings report, which is expected on November 7.

Hong Kong stocks also finished on the upside, with investors looking for more U.S. interest rate cuts. Hong Kong's currency and economy are closely linked to the United States, and market watchers say there are now growing hopes for a U.S. recovery, which would also boost Hong Kong's economy.

Two of the day's biggest gainers were China Mobile, which rose more than four percent, and computer maker Legend, which soared more than five percent.