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Asian Stocks Rally - 2004-02-13

Stocks in Asia rallied this week, with gains in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index continued its rise this week after a short-lived correction in early February. The main index was up more than three percent for the week, closing Friday at 13,739.

The property sub-index rebounded on Friday after minor declines in mid-week. Property shares had fallen following comments by David Eldon, chairman of the Hong Kong branch of the bank HSBC. He said Hong Kong real estate prices were rising too quickly and the increases were not sustainable.

"If property prices are going to move up, I think that's fine, but let's have it done in a measured and rationed way," he said. "If we end up with too much speculation in the market, the message will get out that we are not being sensible."

Taiwan's Taiex reached a fresh 40-month high on Friday. It gained three percent for the week, ending at 6,549.

Traders said the strong performance in property shares drove the gains in financial stocks. Traditionally, banks and other lenders benefit when there is enthusiasm for real estate. Financial analysts said Taiwan's banking stocks performed particularly well during the week as investors see them as promising and relatively inexpensive.

Tokyo's Nikkei index also closed higher Friday, adding about one percent for the week to finish Friday at 10,557. Japanese real estate and banking shares were generally trading higher. Major bank Mizuho and real estate company Mitsubishi Estate were among Friday's gainers.

South Korean investors turned their attention to strong earnings results from some market leaders this week. Seoul's Kospi index ended the week 3.7 percent higher at 882.