- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

SINGAPORE, April 17 (UPI) — Asian stock markets headed south Thursday after the Dow Jones industrial average lost 1.7 percent overnight, its biggest fall since March 31, following a disappointing earnings report from Coca-Cola Co.

Disappointing earnings from U.S. microprocessor giant Advanced Micro Devices also weighed on technology shares throughout the region.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei average closed 0.73 percent lower to 7,821.90. Weakness in the U.S. dollar sent Japanese exporters lower, as investors worried their exports would become more expensive. Sony lost 1.52 percent, while Canon fell 1.88 percent and Kyocera was down 1.53 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp gained 1.57 percent after a local paper reported the automaker may post a 28 percent rise in group recurring profits for 2002-2003.

Game software giant Sega jumped 15.72 percent after Namco said it had approached Sega about a merger. Namco rose 1.3 percent.

Elsewhere, the South Korean market, which had outperformed all week, showed the steepest fall in the region, with the Kospi closing down 1.39 percent to 612.72. Samsung Electronics lost 2.74 percent, while Kookmin Bank was down 3.8 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished down just over 1.1 percent at 8,579.14 with the SARS outbreak heavily weighting on sentiment.

In Taiwan, the main TAIEX ended down 0.93 percent at 4,566.66, with investors taking profit on tech shares. UMC fell 1.90 percent, while rival TSMC slipped 2.35 percent and Nanya Tech lost 1.33 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index finished 0.76 percent lower at 1,282.51, as investors remained concerns about the economic impact of SARS. The government lower the 2003 gross domestic product (GDP) forecast on Thursday to 0.5-2.5 percent from 2-5 percent.

In Kuala Lumpur, the main index closed down 0.38 percent to 631.37 on light trading, with profit-taking on large blue chips leading the way lower. Maybank fell 1.24 percent, while Malaysian Pacific Industries fell 1.74 percent.

The benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index finished down 0.49 percent at 384.63 points.



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