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Asian Stocks Close Lower at Week's End - 2004-02-20

Equities in Asia closed lower at the week's end as investors sought to consolidate earlier gains following losses on Wall Street.

Hitting a fresh 40-month high Friday morning, Taiwan's main share index, the Taiex, gained almost two percent on the week, with banking and industrial shares leading the way.

On Friday, however, the index was 15 points lower than the previous day and closed 6,665.

Neal Stovicek is a strategic advisor for SinoPec Securities in Taiwan. He said investors are returning to Taiwan's equities as the regional economy picks up and demand for Taiwan exports to both China and the United States returns. "North Asia and greater China are increasingly a major growth hub for imports and exports and so there is a lot of money, which is coming into Taiwan both from overseas and from local retail investors," he said.

South Korea's Kospi index lost four points on Friday but closed a half percent higher on the week at 877. Analysts said overnight losses on Wall Street influenced investors to consolidate their gains.

Traders say the profit taking could continue next week.

Tokyo's Nikkei-225 was up one and a half percent by the week's end at 10,720. But on Friday the Nikkei slipped a little over 30 points. Traders say that investors were dumping their real estate and retail shares to consolidate gains made earlier in the week.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the week at 13,868. The index managed to hold onto a one percent rise over last Friday's close.