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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Taipei Times - archives

Taipei Times - archivesAsian stocks close mostly flat as oil haunts investors
OVERNIGHT GAINS CAPPED: Taipei share prices dropped slightly on Friday as a fall in electronics stocks countered early gains driven by an overnight rally on Wall Street

AFP , HONG KONG
Sunday, Aug 14, 2005,Page 10

Regional markets
* Taiwan: TAIEX down 2.81 points to 6,350.90

* Japan: NIKKEI-225 down 1.64 points to 12,261.68

* South Korea: KOSPI up 6.45 points to 1,130.22

* Hong Kong: Hang Seng up 5.75 points to 15,450.95

* China: Shanghai Composite down 15.66 points to 1,167.92

Source: AFP
Asian stocks closed mostly flat on Friday with investors haunted by the impact of rising crude, after the price of oil struck US$66 a barrel in Asian trade, dealers said.

They said any gains, inspired by Wall Street's overnight rally, were eroded or capped with investors waiting to see how far the oil spike will go.

However, dealers said while oil has thus far not impacted on economic growth, its recent rapid price climb has crude now approaching levels of concern.

Kuala Lumpur continued to suffer a double blow: oil prices and the choking haze which dealers said held the potential to hurt economic growth.

Only Manila appeared to buck the trend, rising 0.71 percent amid expectations the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the government's new value-added tax later this month.

The tax is widely viewed as crucial to government efforts to address a reliance on debt-based financing and avert a fiscal crisis.

In Taipei share prices closed 0.04 percent lower on Friday as a fall in electronics stocks countered early market gains driven by an overnight rally on Wall Street.

Dealers said that although a record-breaking run in global oil prices supported raw materials companies and asset-backed stocks, high energy costs sparked concerns in the electronics segment.

"Electronics suffered from further profit-taking as expectations of an industry improvement had already been factored into the shares," said Tom Tang (湯建源), president of Kai Yuan Securities Investment Consultant Co (開元投顧).

Investor interest switched from electronics to old-economy stocks, he said.

"Riding on high oil prices, liquidity switched to old-economy stocks, and thanks also to a technical rebound after the previous correction," he added.

However, although energy price concerns led some investors to switch into defensive plays, electronics stocks will still be crucial to the broad market's prospects going forward, Tang said.

"The key point is whether electronics firms' earnings will improve as expected," he said.

The TAIEX closed down 2.81 points at 6,350.90, on turnover of NT$91.03 billion (US$2.85 billion).

Tokyo share prices closed flat after weaker-than-expected June quarter growth figures as investors locked in profits from the four-day rally ahead of the figures' release.

"Investors opted to take profits on the weaker-than-expected GDP headline figures, after share prices here surged rapidly in recent sessions," said Yutaka Miura, chief strategist at Shinko Securities.

Before the opening bell, the government reported that the economy grew 0.3 percent in the three months to June from the previous quarter, less than the anticipated 0.5 percent.

"Foreign investors stepped up their purchases in domestic-demand-related firms for the past several sessions, but they were also looking for opportunities to lock-in gains. The GDP just provided a good chance for them," said Masayoshi Yano, senior strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

The NIKKEI-225 index fell 1.64 points to 12,261.68.

South Korean share prices closed 0.57 percent higher on Friday, led by Samsung Electronics as the market shrugged off record global oil prices.

Dealers said Wall Street's overnight rally provided an initial boost and gains extended further ahead of a three-day break.

The KOSPI index closed up 6.45 points at 1,130.22.

Hong Kong share prices closed flat as the market took a breather following gains of nearly 400 points in the last two sessions. The Hang Seng Index closed up 5.75 points at 15,450.95.

Shanghai share prices closed 1.36 percent lower on concerns over record high oil prices and profit-taking in petrochemicals and banks.

Dealers said the profit-taking was well contained and was to be expected given the market's advance since the revaluation of the yuan on July 21.

The Shanghai A-share Index fell 16.88 points to 1,227.12, while the Shenzhen A-share Index fell 5.62 points or 1.94 percent to 283.46. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B-shares, fell 15.66 points or 1.32 percent to 1,167.92.

The yuan closed at 8.0980 to the US dollar, another fresh high since the yuan revaluation last month.

Sydney share prices gained a modest 0.2 percent led by resource stocks, but the rise was enough to push the key market index to a record close for the seventh consecutive session. The SP/ASX 200 index closed up 9.0 points at 4,469.2.

Singapore share prices closed 0.12 percent down on Friday on profit-taking ahead of the weekend with investors having few fresh leads now that most of the leading firms have unveiled their June quarter results. The market has wiped out the 67.5-point gain it made during a six-day rally from July 26 to Aug. 2, which was spurred by banking and property stocks after the government eased home mortgage financing rules.

The Straits Times Index fell 2.77 points at 2,303.2.

In Kuala Lumpur share prices closed 0.11 percent higher but trade was sluggish as investors stayed on the sidelines amid concerns about rising oil prices and Malaysia's haze crisis.

Malaysia on Thursday declared a state of emergency in the towns of Port Klang and Kuala Selangor on its west coast after the air pollution index breached the emergency level of 500. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index was up 0.99 points to 937.04.

Markets in Bangkok were closed for a public holiday.

In Jakarta share prices closed 1.20 percent lower on persistent concerns that another fuel price increase this year would drive up inflation and interest rates. The composite index closed down 14.003 points at 1,153.969.

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