- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

TOKYO, Jan. 15 (UPI) — Stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended higher Wednesday in active trading, lifted by news that a Japanese bank will raise capital in a sign of accelerated efforts to clean up bad loans.

The blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average, which gained 82.61 points Tuesday, rose 58.69 points, or 0.7 percent, to 8,611.75. The broader Topix Index, which rose 8.20 points during the previous session, gained 9.76 points, or 1.2 percent, to 855.66.

Advances outpaced declines 1,018 to 343, while another 128 issues settled unchanged. Volume jumped to an estimated 878.86 million shares from 680.63 million shares changing hands on Tuesday.

Analysts said stocks got a boost near the end of the session on news that Sumitomo Mitsui Banking plans to raise fresh capital by issuing shares to Goldman Sachs.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the listed parent of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, jumped 8.5 percent on the information. Other major banks also benefited from the report, with UFJ Holdings rising 5.1 percent, Mizuho Holdings gaining 6 percent and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group rising 4.5 percent.

Prior to the bank sector news, the benchmark Nikkei index had been straddling the previous day's closing level, as investors showing mixed reactions to Intel's earnings report late Tuesday and the dollar's continued weakness on global currency markets.

The yen's strength in currency markets triggered moderate selling of auto stocks early in the session, but they recouped those losses. Toyota Motor rose 0.6 percent, Nissan added 1.4 percent, but Honda eased 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Electron slipped 1 percent, Advantest lost 2.1 percent, Sony lost 1.2 percent, Matsushita Electric Industrial slipped 0.3 percent, but Hitachi added 2.8 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, prices ended higher in moderate trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index, which lost 37.77 points during the previous session, rose 77.18 points, or 0.8 percent, to 9,873.49, boosted by Wall Street's gains and buying of export and banking shares.

Several technology and telecom issues drew buying, with China Mobile rising 0.8 percent, China Unicom rising 0.8 percent and Legend Group rising 2.5 percent.

Cathay Pacific Airways fell 0.8 percent after jumping 4.4 percent previous day. Speculations are mounting that Cathay and Hong Kong Dragon Airlines are in talks about a possible code-share deal on mainland flights.

Prices ended slightly lower on the South Korean Stock Exchange. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, which rose 1.99 points during the previous session, eased 1.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 648.29, pressured late in the session by futures-led program selling.

In trading, Samsung, the world's biggest maker of computer memory chips, lost 1.4 percent. The company is due to release its fourth-quarter business results on Thursday. Steel giant POSCO ended flat also ahead of the company's fourth-quarter results due out Thursday.

Prices ended higher on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The key Weighted Index, which added 1.16 points during the previous session, gained 25.28 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,017.70, lifted by strength in chipmakers.

In trading, China Steel rallied 5.3 percent and Taiwan Cement climbed 3.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Singapore stocks ended lower, snapping their five-day winning streak as gains in technology shares failed to offset weakness in banking stocks. The key Straits Times Index, which rose 15.32 points during the previous session, lost 14.75 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,386.62.

Elsewhere around the Pacific region, prices ended fractionally higher in lackluster trading on the Australian Stock Exchange. The blue-chip All Ordinaries Index, which added 6.50 points during the previous session, added 0.60 point to 3,049.60.

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