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Asian Markets End Week Mixed - 2002-05-03

Markets in Asia were mixed this week. In Hong Kong, however, property shares drove the market upward, and the Hang Seng Index hit a four-month high.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 3 percent higher from last week at 11,797. For most of this week, shares in property developers led the gains, but on Friday, property stocks fell on profit-taking.

Hong Kong blue chips such as China Resources and Citic Pacific also gained ground. Enzo von Pfeil, chief economist at Commercial Economics Asia, says Hong Kong's market should maintain its rally.

"I think this should be a sustained run in Hong Kong, because, I think, a lot of the fund managers who have made a great deal of money out of Korea and Taiwan now are looking for a new home," Mr. von Pfeil said.

Despite the gains this week, Hong Kong's market has been one of the worst performing in Asia this year.

South Korea's Kospi index ended down slightly from last week at 856. Hopes of record earnings there were offset by selling of semiconductor shares. Doubts about the technology sector's recovery prompted investors to favor auto manufacturers. Shares of Hyundai Motor jumped by almost 6 percent Friday, but Samsung Electronics fell 2.5 percent.

Taiwan was hit hard by concerns of a glut in computer chips. Taiwan's weighted price index ended down 6 percent from last week, at 5,910. Mr. von Pfeil sees little potential for growth in Taiwan in the near future.

Tokyo's stock market was closed Friday for a holiday. On Thursday, the Nikkei index ended 11,551 points, nearly even with last Friday's close.

Exporters' shares fell in Japan this week because the dollar has weakened against the yen. Markets in Tokyo will open again on Tuesday after the long holiday weekend.