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Most Asian Stock Markets End Week Low - 2002-04-12

Most of Asia's stock markets ended the week lower, with many investors in the region worried about such factors as weak banks and the performance of U.S. stocks.

Tokyo's Nikkei index sank almost 1.7 percent Friday, bringing losses for the week to three percent. Investors in Tokyo sold shares after seeing U.S. stocks fall overnight Thursday.

Investors in Japan also worried about a government report outlining the problems of the country's banks. Japan's banking system is burdened by large amounts of bad debt.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index slipped 34 points Friday, giving it a loss of one percent for the week. The index ended at 10,710 points.

Ben Kwong, head of equities research for stock brokerage KGI Asia, says investors remain worried about Hong Kong's economy, and the structural business adjustments the city is going through. "Even though we are talking about there will be an improvement of the U.S. economy and that will also benefit our exports, but locally, the economic activity is remaining quite slow, in terms of investment and private consumption," Mr. Kwong said.

Mr. Kwong says investors prefer more resilient Asian markets, such as South Korea and Taiwan. Indeed, both of those markets rose Friday, along with most other regional markets. Most key indexes, however, did not make up losses earlier in the week.

In Seoul, the Kospi gained 1.5 percent. Investors were lured back into the market by the improving outlook for Korean corporate earnings. The index, however, still is down almost five percent since the end of last week.

A rally in technology shares helped push the Taiwan Weighted Index up 1.8 percent. The index finished the week 25 points lower than it ended last week.