- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

SINGAPORE, March 5 (UPI) — With the poor performance of Wall Street overnight, the Asian stock market started the day on a down footing and never quite recovered as investors remain focus on the possibility of a war in Iraq.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.1 percent to 8472.62, with exports like Sony and Nissan affected by the slide in the U.S. dollar which makes their exports more expensive. The dollar reacted to overnight comments by Treasury Secretary John Snow, who said he wasn't concerned about the recent decline in the greenback.

Sony lost 1.1 percent, while Nissan fell 4.7 percent and Toyota 1.0 percent. Negative sentiments was further reinforced for carmakers by the recent weak U.S. auto sales numbers.

In Hong Kong, investors shunned the budget speech, which contained little surprise after the recent leaks. A sell-off in the telecom sector send the main index down 0.8 percent at 9109.18. China Mobile fell 4 percent, while China Unicom was down 3 percent.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 2.8 percent, closing at a 16-month low of 560.26. Geopolitical concerns related to North Korea and Iraq continued to weight on sentiment. There were reports the U.S. military will send 24 bombers to Guam.

In Taiwan, the main index was down 1.81 percent at 4418.11, with technology shares leading the way down. Investors were concerns about news the government has decided to reduce water supplies to northern Taiwan, where a lot of high-tech plants are located. AU Optronics fell 6.61 percent.

In Singapore, the Straits Times index finished down 0.3 percent at 1265.50, a 19-month low. Selling on DBS Group, down 2.1 percent, pressured the overall index, but technology stocks were also hit.

The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite index ended down 1.1 percent at 391.182, following the rest of the region. Telekomunikasi Indonesia led the decliners, down 2.2 percent.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index ended down 1.28 percent at 359.90 points, pressured by selling on finance, banking and telecoms shares. Advanced Info Service lost 1.3 percent on profit taking after nearing a three-week high, while telecom group Jasmin International lost 7.5 percent on concerns its creditors will not approve a rehabilitation plan when they meet later this week.

The main index in Malaysia closed down 0.95 percent at a seven-week low of 643.07, while in the Philippines the main index ended down 1.59 percent, wiping out almost all the gains of the previous three days, as investors reacted to the bombings in the south of the country.

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