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Asian Stocks Flat Friday - 2002-08-16

Trading was flat in Asian stock markets Friday, but most major share indexes in the region rose slightly through the week.

Technology shares around the region strengthened a bit Friday, after American computer maker Dell forecast strong sales for the third quarter. Other sectors moved little, or saw some selling, as investors continue to worry about global economic conditions.

South Korea's Kospi index gained almost one percent, hitting its highest point this month at 718 points. That is a 3.7 percent gain from last Friday's close. Korea's tech shares led the market, with computer chip maker Samsung Electronics rising 1.1 percent.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index was one of the few Asian benchmarks that ended the week lower. It slipped seven points Friday, and finished the week down two percent, at 9,788 points.

Most Asian markets saw only light trading this week. Some analysts attribute low trading volumes to the summer holiday period, since many investors and traders are away.

However, Enzo von Pfeil, a stock-market strategist in Hong Kong, thinks Asian stock markets may be in for an extended period of slow trading. He said central banks around the world have stopped easing money supply. He warned that discourages investors from buying and makes markets erratic. "It's when they take the foot off that gas pedal a little bit that you then find things slowing down, you then get the bad news beginning to come out…. That's what I believe is behind all of this very choppy turbulence that we're seeing."

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index advanced 45 points, ending at 10,265. That is a gain of 2.5 percent from last Friday. Investors bought cautiously, following the modest rise in the U.S. markets Thursday.

In Taipei, a rally in technology shares was not enough to push the main index higher in Friday's trading. Investors sold shares in plastics companies, after a drop in wholesale prices of some plastic materials. The index shed 12 points, ending at 4,919. However, the index still managed to finish about one percent higher than last week's close.