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Asian Markets Upbeat at Week's End - 2002-05-17

In Asia, markets ended mostly up at the week's end, with telecommunications and technology shares making gains across the region. Taiwan's market, however, slipped slightly, as prices of computer chips continued to decline.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended 2.8 percent higher than last week's close, at 11,974 points.

Early in the day, the index briefly broke through the key level of 12,000 points, after China Mobile, the second largest stock on the Hong Kong exchange, announced a $10.2 billion deal to buy eight networks from its parent.

Howard Gorges is vice chairman of South China Securities in Hong Kong. "China Mobile was a very big mover Friday. People like the deal they've just done. That's pushed the index up strongly. It has been helped by Hutchinson, Cheung Kong and one or two other big blue chips, but it's still a market where you're getting a certain amount of rotation between blue chips stocks. Not everything is rising at the same time," he said.

Korea's Kospi index closed at 875 on Friday, a 7 percent jump from last week's close. Gains in the U.S. market helped boost the technology and electronics shares. The world's largest memory chipmaker, Samsung Electronics, rose on bargain hunting after losses, following a downgrade by UBS-Warburg last week. Brokers in Korea said the stock looked cheap after falling from its mid-April high.

Tokyo's Nikkei posted a nine-week high, ending at 11,847, a 2.7 percent rise from last week's close. Foreign investors were said to be behind the strong advance. Shares of Japan's second largest telecommunications company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, gained 11 percent over the week, after forecasting a strong earnings turnaround for this year.

In Taipei, the TAIEX index ended slightly down from last Friday, falling 18 points to 5,789.

Investors in Taiwan remain cautious, after weaker demand for D-Ram computer chips forced prices to slide further.