- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

SINGAPORE, March 14 (UPI) — Taking their lead from the performance of Wall Street overnight, Asian stock markets Friday ended the week on a positive note.

The optimism was attributed to a news report that said senior Iraqi officials may have begun secret surrender negotiations, a report U.S. officials denied. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial average shot up 3.57 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index surged 4.81 percent.

The Nikkei rose 1.7 percent to 8,002.69, led by buying in Kyocera Corp, the world's largest maker of ceramic packages for semiconductors, which rose 6.03 percent. Hitachi Construction Machinery also rose 6.02 percent after it announced plans for a new production line in China.

In Taiwan, the main TAIEX index closed up 2.22 percent at 4,476.17 led by plastic shares and semiconductors. Formosa Plastics added 5.62 percent after a local newspaper report saying it would expand its operations in Taiwan. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., rose 3.17 percent, while rival United Microelectronics Corp gained 2.53 percent.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed up 1.1 percent at 537.65 points, ending an eight-day losing streak. However, early morning gains were partly wiped off by continuing concerns over the SK Global accounting scandal. SK Corp., which had risen 7.4 percent in early trade, closed down 8.9 percent, while SK Global lost 15 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index rose 1.92 percent to 8956.17. HSBC Holdings added 2.15 percent, while China Mobile rose 1.89percent.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index gained 1.6 percent to 1250.88, with trading focusing on newly listed Accord Customer Care, which rose 33 percent on its first trading day.

The benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index added 1.35 percent to 358.24 points, with strong buying interest in the banking sector. Bangkok Bank jumped 3.88 percent, while Thai Farmers Bank's gained 4.46 percent.

In Kuala Lumpur, the main index rose 0.2 percent on bargain hunting. Mobile phone operator Celcom was the center of activity, rising 0.4 percent.

The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index added 0.4 percent at 1003.99, with bargain hunting on a few selector blue-chips such as Ayala Corp, up 1.2 percent and Jollibee Foods, up 1.6 percent.

The Jakarta Composite Index rose 1.05 percent to 387.88 points in thin trading supported by PT Telkom, up 3 percent.

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