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Week Ends With Asia Market Rally - 2002-11-15

Major Asian markets ended the week with a rally on the back of positive retail data from the United States, which investors see as good news for the region's exporters. Hong Kong ended the week in positive territory on Friday with the Hang Seng gaining a point over last week - finishing at 9,865. The gains were in part driven by a new government policy to shore up falling property prices. Investors on Thursday snapped up shares of major property developers.

Robert Fong, a Hong Kong property analyst with Citigroup Asia says the move to suspend government land sales prompted a "relief rally." He says, however, many investors remain skeptical about a long-term recovery.

"I don't see the rally in the sector continuing too much longer, after all this isn't the first time the government has come out with measures to stabilize property prices," he said. "Each of the last few sets of measures have not had a long term effect in halting the slide in prices."

Also in Hong Kong, China Telecom failed to entice investors in its first day of trading Friday. It ended the day two cents below its initial public offering price.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 200 points on Friday, prompted by better than expected American retail sales. About a third of Japanese products go to the United States. Major exporters made the biggest gains. Nintendo jumped 7.8 percent.

Despite Friday's rally, Japanese shares lost ground over the week - the Nikkei ended two percent lower than a week ago, at 8,503. Analysts note that investors are still wary of the country's besieged banking sector.

Global ratings agency Moody's Investors Services raised South Korea's credit rating index from stable to positive. That news, along with the U.S. economic data pushed Seoul's main benchmark up three percent on Friday recouping, early week losses.

The Kospi, however, ended flat from last Friday's close at 672. Samsung electronics, the world's largest memory chip maker, surged by four percent - accounting for a third of the index's gains.

Taiwan's Taiex index jumped three percent on Friday but also ended the week almost unchanged at 4,813.