- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

HONG KONG, Jan. 13 (UPI) — Stock prices ended higher in moderate trading Monday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, lifted by strength in China-related issues.

Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday. Trading will resume on Tuesday with the Nikkei Stock Average hovering around 8,470.45 after losing 27.48 points Friday.

Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index, which rose 46.09 points during the previous session, jumped 112.58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 9,834.08. Analysts said Hong Kong stocks were lifted as investors acquired an appetite for China-linked issues amid the uncertain global outlook.

Worries about rising tensions in North Korea after it pulled out of a global nuclear arms treaty seemed to be abating and some traders said the likelihood of a U.S.-led war on Iraq was also already priced into the market.

In trading, Legend Holdings jumped 5.3 percent as China's largest personal computer maker is expected to benefit from rising domestic consumer demand and growing affluence.

China's largest refiner, Sinopec Corp., jumped 4.2 percent after brokers at JP Morgan upgraded the stock.

China's largest offshore oil producer CNOOC Ltd. rose 1 percent, China's largest oil and gas producer PetroChina rose 0.6 percent and Chinese piped gas distributor Xinao Gas Holdings surged 5.8 percent.

Elsewhere, stocks ended higher on the South Korean Stock Exchange, lifted by strength in oil stocks. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, which fell 2.04 points during the previous session, gained 19.52 points, or 3.1 percent, to 648.06. Analysts said the market was supported by strength in oil-related stocks after OPEC agreed to raise output over the weekend.

OPEC agreed to increase crude production by 1.5 million barrels a day in a bid to lower prices and offset shortages resulting from a strike in Venezuela.

The market also drew support from developments over the weekend to ease the crisis in North Korea. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said Sunday that North Korea was ready to negotiate directly with the United States about its nuclear weapons programs. Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Richardson — who just completed three days of talks with North Korean diplomats — said he thinks the (Bush) administration needs to "just pick up the phone" and get preliminary talks at the U.N. started at a low level to set up broader talks to address the issues.

In trading, stocks of companies that benefit from cheaper fuel costs rose. Korea Electric Power climbed 1.4 percent and Korea Gas jumped 9.3 percent. POSCO, the world's second-largest steel maker, jumped 6.4 percent ahead of its fourth quarter earnings this week and Korean Air, Korea's flagship carrier, surged 7.1 percent on hopes the OPEC decision will ease its fuel costs.

Prices on the Taiwan Stock Exchange rose to their highest level in more than five months. The key Weighted Index, which rose 37.07 points during the previous session, jumped 140.41 points, or 2.9 percent, to 4,991.26 on hopes for renewed technology spending in the United States.

In trading, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest contract chip maker, surged the daily 7-percent trading limit.

Singapore stocks ended higher for the fourth consecutive session in moderate trading. The key Straits Times Index, which rose 12.08 points during the previous session, rose 38.88 points, or 2.9 percent, to 1,386.05.

In trading, the world's third-largest contract chip maker, Chartered Semiconductor jumped 8 percent.

Prices ended slightly higher in light trading on the Australian Stock Exchange. The blue-chip All Ordinaries Index, which slipped 0.60 points during the previous session, rose 7.40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,042.50.

Market heavyweight News Corp. rose 1.8 percent, Australia's dominant telecommunications carrier Telstra Corp. rose 1 percent while Rio Tinto eased 1 percent.

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