- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2003

TOKYO, April 18 (UPI) — Shares in Asia ended largely higher Friday, lifted by the steady rise in U.S. markets.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei-225 average rose 52 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 7,874.51, while South Korea's Kospi rose 624 points, or nearly 2 percent, to end at 624.

As the war against Iraq is effectively over, investors in the region are turning to focus on issues closer to home, especially the situation in North Korea as well as continued concerns about the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome particularly in China.

Hong Kong, which has been hard hit by the SARS epidemic, saw the Hang Seng index continue to tread lower, falling 96.00 points, or 1.11 percent, to close at 8,579.14 Friday. China's Shanghai A shares lost 11.06 points or 0.66 percent, to end at 1,676.88 while the Shanghai B shares dipped 0.63 points, or 0.49 percent, to close at 128.37.

But Taiwan's weighted index soared 91.64 points or 2.01 percent, to close at 4,658.30, while the Jakarta composite index rose 1.14 points to 443.86 and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur composite index rose 4.24 points to 635.61.

U.S. markets are closed Friday in celebration of Easter.

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