- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

SINGAPORE, March 4 (UPI) — Asian stock markets moved broadly lower Tuesday following in the footstep of Wall Street overnight amid on-going concerns about the situation in Iraq. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index 1.3 percent.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.1 percent at 8480.22, though the banking sector lend some support after Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial's late Monday announcement that it had set a fixed price for its retail share offering.

Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial rose 1.9 percent, while Mizuho Holdings jumped 5.4 percent.

In Singapore, shares ended at a 19-month low, with the banking sector dragging the main index lower. Banks have just reported their annual earnings, which were disappointing. The Straits Times index lost 0.8 percent to 1268.96. DBS lost 0.5 percent, while UOB was down 1.9 percent and OCBC down 1.7 percent.

In Taiwan, the TAIEX share index lost 0.60 percent at 4,499.69, with technology stocks following Nasdaq lower. UMC was down 2.49 percent, while TSCM lost 1.36 percent. The two firms account for some 12 percent of the main market's total market capitalization.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index ended down 0.9 percent at 9181.89, with many investors sideline ahead of the budget Wednesday which is expected to deliver tax hikes.

In South Korea, the main index fell 2.3 percent, led by blue chips Posco, down 6.7 percent, and Samsung Electronics, down 3.4 percent. Traders said news Goldman Sachs had downgraded Posco was hurting sentiment.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index ended down 0.9 percent at 364.55 on profit-taking. Telecom shares were mostly lower with Advanced Info Service down 2.5 percent, Shin Satellite down 1.9 percent and Shin Corp. down 2.5 percent.

The Jakarta Composite Index lost 0.97 percent at 395.37 points in thin trading, which ignored a lower than expected inflation data.

Manila was the only exchange to escape the selling, as later buying interest lifted the index in the black, up 0.14 percent to 1,025.99 points. Analysts attributed the rebound to a technical correction.

The Kuala Lumpur market was closed.

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