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Concerns Over Rising Oil Prices Drive Asian Stocks Down - 2002-12-06

Concerns over rising oil prices stymied Asian markets Friday while prompting gains in some Asian utility companies. Losses on Wall Street also helped drive markets down during the week.

Oil prices rose on Friday as Venezuela announced it might not be able to meet its delivery commitments of crude and refined oil due to strikes there. This together with renewed fears of war in the Gulf sent investors in Asia looking for safe havens, according to analysts.

Energy analyst Indy Sarker of Deutsche Bank says investors have started to seek out utility shares in Hong Kong.

"There's obviously fears about tensions in the Middle East rising, and as a result you see that oil prices have been firming up once again. In terms of investment opportunities, where investors can seek cover if markets turn somewhat ugly, we would be looking at companies like China Light and Power, Hong Kong Electric and Hong Kong and China Gas," he said.

Hong Kong's main share index shed close to one percent this week, ending Friday at 9,973.

Japan's Nikkei index was one of the biggest losers for the week, falling almost four percent. Analysts warn that the Japanese economy is heading for its fourth recession in a decade. The Nikkei 225 ended at 8,863 on Friday.

Taiwan was the exception to the rule this week, with the main share index managing to sustain momentum from the previous weeks' regional rally. In step with losses on the NASDAQ overnight, however, Taiwanese technology shares took a beating: Asustek Computer, the country's largest computer motherboard maker, fell 3.3 percent.

The Taiex index closed almost two percent up from the previous week. The index, however, lost 16 points on Friday, ending at 4,738.

Seoul's Kospi index closed almost flat for the week, losing six points to finish at 718.