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Most Asian Markets Remain Steady - 2002-08-23

Most Asian stock markets moved little Friday, as traders remain wary about both the U.S. economy and local economic conditions. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index closed up 53 points Friday, its fourth straight day of gains. The index finished the week 1 percent higher than it ended last Friday, at 9,867.

Japanese technology and electronic shares were among the gainers. Nintendo surged 4.5 percent while semiconductor-equipment maker Tokyo Electron jumped 8 percent.

Taiwan's technology shares also rallied, encouraged by government data showing improving overseas orders, and by gains on Wall Street this week. Taipei's main share index on Friday briefly broke through the key 5,000 point level, then slipped back to end at 4,968, up 12 points for the day. That was 1 percent above last Friday's end.

Sean Debow, a technology analyst for UBS Warburg Asia, warns that recent gains in technology shares may not last, pointing to news this week that a major U.S. electronics retailer has cut its sales forecast. "Historically this period between September and December generally sees a seasonal upturn," he said. "However we are getting conflicting information as this week we saw RadioShack, one of the largest U.S. retailers of consumer electronic goods, sound a warning sign. So really we are in a period of question for investors in tech in Taiwan."

In South Korea, shares retreated Friday, with the Kospi index losing 5 points, to end at 740. Worries about the outlook for the country's automakers weighed down the market, but even technology shares were not immune. Samsung Electronics slid 1 percent as did SK Telecom.

Still, the Kospi finished the week with a gain of 3 percent from last Friday.

Hong Kong's main share index sank 1.7 percent Friday, to 10,245, barely changed from last week's finish. News that the city's economy remains under deflationary pressure seemed to discourage investors.