- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2003

SINGAPORE, April 16 (UPI) — Asian stock markets moved broadly higher Wednesday, with investors taking heart from better-than-expected first-quarter earnings reports from U.S. technology companies.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei average finished 0.52 percent higher to 7,879.49, supported by interest in mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo, up 2.53 percent, as well as tech shares such as Tokyo Electron, up 6.2 percent, and Ibiden Co, a supplier of chipsets to Intel, up 6.47 percent.

But banks and automakers moved lower with Mizuho down 0.87 percent. Toyota Motor Corp lost 1.17 percent after General Motors Corp., warned on Tuesday it might not meet its 2003 earnings target because of incentive costs and the weak U.S. economy.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index continued its recent rally, adding another 2.7 percent to close at 621.34. Chipmaker Samsung Electronics closed up 4.9 percent, helped by Intel's earning data, while Hyundai Motor jumped 7 percent amid further signs of easing tension over North Korea's nuclear standoff.

President George W. Bush has approved a plan to begin negotiations with North Korea in Beijing as early as next week to resolve the nuclear standoff.

In Taiwan, the Taiex closed up 2.71 percent at 4,609.32, supported by the tech sector. Chip foundry TSMC rose 4.9 percent, while rival UMC gained 3.45 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed 0.5 percent higher at 8,675.14, extending Tuesday's gains. Cathay Pacific continued to recuperate some of its recent losses, rising 1.73 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.04 percent to 1,292.35, supported by the tech sector. Chartered Semiconductor rose 3.9 percent, while Venture Corp was up 0.7 percent. But banking shares felt the brunt of investors worries about the state of the local economy. DBS Group lost 1.1 percent.

The benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index gained 0.41 percent to 633.77. Gentinr, which had been under pressure because of concerns the SARS will have on its bottom line, rebounded 1.7 percent, while its Resorts World gained 2.6 percent.

In Bangkok, the benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index finished up 2.22 percent at 383.36 points, its highest level since last July.

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