- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

HONG KONG, Jan. 3 (UPI) — Stock prices on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange ended sharply higher Friday in light trading, lifted by Thursday's buying binge on Wall Street.

Markets in Japan remained closed and will reopen Monday with the blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average at 8,578.95 — its lowest year-end close since 1982.

Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index, which rose 44.23 points during the previous session, jumped 218.33 points, or 2.3 percent, to 9,583.85. Advances overwhelmed declines, 334 to 138, while another 345 issues settled unchanged.

Analysts said Hong Kong stocks jumped as investor confidence was boosted by the surprise rebound in U.S. manufacturing, fanning hopes that an upturn in the United States will spur global economic recovery.

Trading activity was described as light with many investors either on holiday or reluctant to trade given a rising oil price and a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq in coming months.

In trading, exporter Li & Fung, a supply chain manager for garments and consumer goods, jumped 4.7 percent and Johnson Electric Holdings, a maker of micro motors for industrial and consumer products, also rallied 4.7 percent.

Investment company Henderson Investment sank 13.9 percent after shareholders rejected parent Henderson Land Development's sweetened offer to take the unit private. Henderson Land rose 3 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, prices ended sharply higher on the South Korean Stock Exchange. The Korean Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, which rose 7.62 points during the previous session, jumped 25.93 points, or 4.1 percent, to 661.10.

Volume rose to an estimated 998.1 million shares from 737.4 million shares changing hands Thursday. Advances outpaced declines 681 to 115, while 35 stocks ended unchanged. Sixteen stocks ended up by the 15-percent daily limit and two ended down the daily limit.

Analysts said South Korean stocks were lifted by Thursday's surge on Wall Street as foreigners came back into the market as strong buyers, thinking it was a good time to return after the gains in the United States.

Blue chips rose across the board, leading the Kospi higher. Kookmin Bank jumped 4.8 percent, Hyundai Motor gained 4.4 percent and KT Corp. jumped 5 percent.

Samsung Electronics, the largest company by market capitalization, climbed 7 percent, steelmaker Posco gained 3 percent and Chohung Bank surged 7 percent.

Prices also rose on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The Weighted Price Index, which gained 72.42 points during the previous session, jumped 101.45 points, or 2.2 percent, to 4,626.32.

Prices also ended higher on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The Straits Times Index, which slipped lost 5.09 points during the previous session, rebounded 3.95 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,339.93.

Elsewhere around the Pacific region, prices ended higher on the Australian Stock Exchange in light pre-weekend trading. The blue-chip All Ordinaries Index, which gained 20.70 points during the previous session, rose another 29.50 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,025.70.

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