- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

TOKYO, Jan. 6 (UPI) — Stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended higher in a shortened trading session Monday, lifted by strength in blue chips following last week's gains on Wall Street.

The blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average rose 134.38 points, or 1.6 percent, to 8,713.33 in the first trading day of its new year. The broader Topix Index rose 1.9 percent to 860.07 points.

Trading activity was light following the new year's holidays, with 329.9 million shares changing hands. Markets were open for a half-day. Full trading resumes Tuesday.

Last Monday, the Nikkei closed out 2002 down 19 percent for the year and its worst year-end close since 1982. Japan's financial markets were closed most of last week for an extended New Year's holiday.

Re-opening after the 4-day break, traders said the relatively buoyant mood was inspired by Wall Street's sturdy new year performance last week. Gains extended across all sectors, with blue-chip exporters pacing the rally. But lingering cautious due to the possibility of war breaking out in Iraq made investors reluctant from trading actively.

In trading, audio-equipment maker Kenwood surged 14.4 percent following a report that it planned to realign its domestic subsidiaries.

Hitachi jumped 4.6 percent and NEC added 1.6 percent after Intel said it would inject fresh capital into an existing joint venture between the two companies.

Among some of the other technology issues, Advantest rose 1.7 percent and Sony Corp. added 1.4 percent. Mitsubishi Motors jumped 4.3 percent, Toyota Motor rose 1.9 percent and Nissan Motor gained 2.1 percent.

Prices on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange extended their New Year rally, gaining for the third consecutive session in anticipation of measures to spur growth in the United States, Hong Kong's second-largest trading partner. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 82.11 points, or 0.9 percent, to 9,665.96.

Fashion retailer Esprit Holdings jumped 4.5 percent on hopes that its business in the United States would gain from a stronger economy there while the euro's recent rise could boost its European earnings.

HSBC Holdings, Hong Kong's biggest stock by market capitalization, rose 0.6 percent, China's largest cell phone operator China Mobile rose 2.6 percent, rival China Unicom added 1.8 percent and PC maker Legend Group gained 1.8 percent.

Stocks ended slightly higher on the South Korean Stock Exchange as market sentiment improved on hopes of a diplomatic solution to North Korea's nuclear threat. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, rose 5.61 points, or 0.9 percent, to 666.71.

Market sentiment was fragile even after North Korea reportedly said it's willing to peacefully settle U.S. concerns over North Korean nuclear facilities.

In trading, Samsung Electronics rose 1.6 percent while Korean Air added 1.2 percent.

Prices also ended higher on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The key Weighted Index rose 63.54 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,695.55 on hopes for further gains in U.S. stocks.

Singapore stocks ended lower on economic uncertainties following a lackluster showing on Wall Street Friday. The Straits Times Index fell 8.31 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,331.62.

Elsewhere around the Pacific region, prices ended higher on the Australian Stock Exchange, boosted by gains in banking stocks. The All Ordinaries Index rose 19.10 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,044.80.

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