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Asian Markets Edge Slightly Higher - 2003-08-29

Share prices in Asian markets edged slightly higher this week, consolidating gains made over the past two weeks.

Taiwan's main share index finished at 5,650 points on Friday, a new 15-month high. Over the week, the Taiex added just four points. Traders say technology stocks rose slightly after overnight gains in U.S. tech shares on Thursday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished its third consecutive week of gains at 10,908, more than one percent higher than the previous Friday.

Analysts say the gains reflect growing confidence that Hong Kong is recovering from the economic damage done by the SARS outbreak earlier this year.

Howard Gorges is vice chairman with South China Brokerage.

"It's consolidated very well above the 10,500 level, and looks as thought it wants to challenge 11,000," he said. "The market has broadened from being a blue chip-led rally with a lot of China stocks being stars. We have a lot of catch-up going on in a number of second and third line stocks."

Mr. Gorges says property shares have appreciated by 15 to 20 percent over the past two weeks. Shares of property developers have been hit hard in the past six years, as real estate prices have tumbled by as much as 70 percent.

He says the gains now show increasing speculation that mainland Chinese will start buying homes in Hong Kong.

"Property has been drawing most of the attention because of the news on China buying of flats," said Howard Gorges. "But there is a feeling that Hong Kong, having had a bad time for several years, is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel."

South Korea's Kospi index also consolidated gains made in the past two weeks, edging five points higher over the week. It closed Friday at 759 points.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 held steady this week to end 0.5 percent higher Friday at 10,343.