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Asian Stocks End Week Higher - 2002-11-22


Stocks climbed higher in Asia Friday for the third session in a row. Economic reports in Taiwan, South Korea and the United States helped propel the markets higher.

Investors in Asian equities were in a buying mood Friday, encouraged by the strong performance of U.S. equities Thursday, when the Nasdaq closed at a five-month high. Also helping was economic data from the U.S. and several Asian nations indicating renewed demand for electronics.

Japan's key indexes scored their largest weekly gains in a month. The Nikkei Average rose 3 percent this week to close at 8,772, while the Topix Index gained more than 2 percent to 859.

Entertainment giant Sony and industrial robotics maker Fanuc were among the day's top performers, each rising more than 2 percent on the day.

One sector to watch: the banking industry. Some banking shares soared in recent sessions after reports suggested the disposal of bad loans could be accelerated, but there are also concerns about the release of the banks' earnings reports scheduled for Monday.

James Fiorillo, senior banking analyst at Commerz Securities Tokyo. "Bank stocks have obviously been big movers on the downside as well as upside, which is another way of saying they are extremely volatile," he said. "There is a huge extraordinary developing drama in Japan right now where the government of Mr. Koizumi and his advisors is preparing to announce a very aggressive bold bank reform plan. The problem is that he is starting to do away with the old way of doing business in Japan and this is prompting an extraordinary level of resistance."

In South Korea, the KOSPI rose nearly 0.5 percent to close at 692, a two-month high. The central bank said the economy expanded 1.3 percent in the third quarter, exceeding expectations.

Samsung Electronics, one of the top makers of mobile phones, advanced after saying the global market for cell phones will rise next year.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose more than 0.5 percent to 10,065, its best level since August. Banking giant HSBC rose almost 1 percent.

Taiwan chipmakers jumped after a surge in U.S. semiconductor shares. United Microelectronics rose 7 percent while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing gained 6 percent. The TWSE added nearly 3 percent to 4707, ending a four-day decline.