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Asian Stock Markets Enjoying Boost - 2003-05-02

Buyers returned to some of the region's stock markets after news that the worst may be over with the outbreak of atypical pneumonia in Hong Kong and Singapore.

News that the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, in Hong Kong may be stabilizing boosted investor sentiment in the territory's stock market.

Analysts say shares of some leading Hong Kong companies are trading at bargain prices after weeks of selloffs due to SARS.

Some fund managers are buying again, but others are more cautious. "In general, we think that there are some Hong Kong stocks that have been oversold mainly due to SARS," said Louis So, a fund manager at investment management company Value Partners in Hong Kong. "In the past few days, we have bottom-fished some stocks, but not a lot."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended the week up more than 1 percent at 8,808.

In Taiwan, government measures against SARS lifted the weighted index nearly one percent Friday to 4,187. Shares of carmaker Yulon Motor jumped nearly 7 percent after the company said its expansion into China will not be affected by the SARS problem there.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.5 percent to 7,907. Analysts say investors are still hoping the government will find ways to boost Japan's ailing stock market, which has plunged to 20-year lows in recent weeks. The market will be closed Monday for a national holiday.

However, South Korean shares fell roughly a third of a percent to 597 Friday, with investors worried about the still unresolved North Korean nuclear standoff and SARS.