- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

TOKYO, Feb. 24 (UPI) — Stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange snapped their four-day losing streak Monday in light trading, supported by bargain-hunting and Friday's gains on Wall Street.

The blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average, which lost 137.38 points during the previous session, rose 51.41 points, or 0.6 percent, to 8,564.95. The broader Topix index, which lost 9.24 points in the previous session, eased another 1.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 838.96.

Declines outpaced advances 834 to 525.

Volume declined to an estimated 610 million shares from 750.80 million shares changing hands on Friday.

Analysts said the market snapped its four-day losing streak on a combination of bargain-hunting and Friday's gains on Wall Street.

Reports that Toshihiko Fukui, a policy conservative, would be the next Bank of Japan governor were confirmed just as the market closed, with an official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party saying Fukui would be appointed. Analysts noted banking groups rebounded, but the announcement was too late for the market to react.

In trading, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rose 1 percent, UFJ Holdings rose 2.9 percent and Mizuho Holdings added 0.9 percent.

Advantest gained 1.9 percent, Tokyo Electron rose 2.7 percent, NTT DoCoMo fell 2.5 percent and NTT lost 2.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Daido Life Insurance sank 7.7 percent after the Tokyo Stock Exchange approved the listing of Taiyo Life Insurance. Daido plans to integrate operations with Taiyo next year.

Elsewhere in Asia, stocks ended lower on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index, which lost 139.62 points in the previous session, slipped another 11.39 points, or 0.1 percent, to 9,239.47.

Analysts said stocks ended lower as early gains were lost as investors became nervous about corporate earnings due in the next few weeks.

In trading, fixed-line telecom operator PCCW Ltd. fell 3.6 percent after brokers at Merrill Lynch downgraded PCCW to sell from neutral and lowered its earnings forecast for 2003 and 2004, to reflect a weaker core fixed-line business.

Power company CLP Holdings settled unchanged after posting earnings results that were 2.5 percent below its 2002 earnings. Li & Fung, a supply chain manager which exports consumer goods and garments to the United States and elsewhere, rose 1.9 percent. HSBC Holdings added 0.3 percent and cable TV operator i-Cable Communications dropped 5.7 percent.

Prices ended higher on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The key Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, which eased 2.35 point in the previous session, rose 60.85 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,609.20.

Analysts said stocks closed higher after four straight sessions of losses. China shares ended stronger as some bargain hunting emerged following last week's steep fall, but gains were capped by the weak performance of bank stocks.

Prices also ended higher on the South Korean Stock Exchange. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, which eased 1.91 points during the previous session, gained 12.69 points, or 2.1 percent, to 616.29.

South Korean stocks ended higher on the back of Friday's gains on Wall Street and media reports that North Korea may reconsider its withdrawal from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, experts said.

Prices ended lower on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The Straits Times Index, which added 2.62 points during the previous session, slipped 8.24 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,306.79, pressured by continued uncertainty over a possible war in Iraq.

Elsewhere, prices ended higher in moderate trading on the Australian Stock Exchange. The blue-chip All Ordinaries Index, which slipped 2.10 points during the previous session, rose 32.90 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,837.30.

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