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Kospi Index Reaches Best Level in 14 Months - 2001-11-23

South Korea's stock exchange was Asia's top performing equity market Friday.

South Korea's Kospi index climbed to its best level in 14-months, one day after the Bank of Korea announced better than expected economic growth. The bank says gross domestic product rose 1.2 percent in the July to September quarter, up from 0.4 percent in the previous three months.

The benchmark composite jumped 3.3 percent Friday to 645, its strongest advance in seven weeks. The index has gained 25-percent in the last month, making it one of the best performing markets around the world.

Japan, Asia's largest stock market, was closed for a holiday Friday, but bad economic data hurt investor sentiment earlier in the week. The government said Thursday that the trade surplus fell nearly 33-percent last month, the 16th consecutive fall.

Tokyo also unveiled plans for a second extra budget, worth $20 billion, to help boost the ailing economy.

In an interview with TV Tokyo, Heizo Takenaka, State Minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, says that "the main purpose of the additional budget is to avoid the risk of a deflationary spiral and to speed up structural reforms."

One Japanese stock to watch is telecoms giant NTT. It says that overseas investments have damaged its earnings for this fiscal year. The company also forecast additional losses even though it is shifting 100,000 workers to lower paid positions.

Other Asian markets rose Friday. Stocks in Manila climbed to their highest level in seven weeks, with blue chips adding on two-percent to 1,088. That follows a promise from Washington to provide economic and military assistance to the nation. Share markets in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand also ended the trading week higher.