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Asian markets end mixed in thin year-end trading; Nikkei breaks 5-day winning streak

Asian markets end mixed in thin year-end trading; Nikkei breaks 5-day winning streak

Asian markets were mixed Thursday as investors in Japan and Hong Kong sold shares after their recent gains, but benchmark indices in Australia, China, Thailand and the Philippines all rose.
Trading was subdued in most markets because of the year-end holidays.
Japanese stocks snapped a five-day winning streak, with shipping companies leading the declines.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index fell 88.85 points, or 0.57 percent, to close at 15,564.69 points. The index had risen more than 4 percent the previous five sessions. Trading volume was the lowest the year for a full session.
Trading wraps up for the year in Tokyo with a half-day session Friday.
"We could see a slight recovery tomorrow" as some investors take long positions on hopes for gains in the new year, said Motomi Hiratsuka, head of Japan client coverage at BNP Paribas. After Friday, Japanese markets will reopen Jan. 4.
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index slid 285.87 points, or 1.08 percent, to 27,842.93 points.
The blue-chip index had edged up on opening, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street and on reports the Chinese government had approved plans for a high-speed wireless broadband network.
However, the index soon dropped after investors decided to sell stocks to lock in gains after a 4.1 percent rise in the market over the previous two trading sessions.
Property stocks were expected to continue to outperform the broader market in anticipation of rising property prices in 2008.
"Hong Kong-based property sector will be the major theme for 2008. I would expect overall Hong Kong-based property stocks to see a 10 percent to 15 percent further upside in 2008," Louis Tse at Value Convergence CEF Securities said.
Chinese telecommunication stocks gained on news the State Council, China's Cabinet, had approved a plan on a wireless broadband network, prompting speculation the government would soon award third-generation, or 3G, licenses to telecom operators.
That news also lifted shares in the Chinese mainland, where the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 5,308.89 points. The Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 1,453.47.
China's Ministry of Information Industry and some analysts, however, downplayed the statement's significance, saying it did not suggest a faster introduction of a 3G network.
In Hong Kong, China Telecom shot up 6.26 percent and China Unicom gained 3.57 percent.
On the Chinese mainland, China United Telecom jumped 8.3 percent, while ZTE Corp. soared 7.4 and Bright Oceans Inter-telecom rose by the maximum daily 10 percent limit.
Mainland Chinese markets will wind up the year's trading Friday and be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Hong Kong markets will be open Dec. 31 before taking off New Year's Day like all other markets in the region.
In currency trading, the dollar was trading at 114.34 yen at 1050 GMT Thursday, up slightly from 114.31 yen late Wednesday in New York. The euro rose to US$1.4506 from US$1.4490.
Elsewhere:
BANGKOK: Thailand's main stock index rose 1.3 percent to 852.06.
JAKARTA: Indonesian shares rose, with the main index rising 0.9 percent to 2,739.704.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares rose, with the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index climbing 1 percent to 1,437.82.
MANILA: Philippine shares gained for the fourth straight session as investors snapped up blue chips to spruce up their portfolios before year-end. The main Philippine Stock Exchange Index rose 55.01 points or 1.5 percent to 3,667.64.
SEOUL: South Korean shares ended flat as window-dressing by local institutions offset ex-dividend declines in banks and Korea Electric Power Corp. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, finished up 1.90, or 0.1 percent, at 1908.62.
SINGAPORE: The Straits Times Index closed up 0.1 percent, or 3.99 points, at 3,477.20.
SYDNEY: Energy and mining stocks led the Australian share market higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,350.9.
TAIPEI: Taiwan shares rose sharply on investor confidence that a court will uphold presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou's acquittal on graft charges. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange gained 157.33 points, or 1.9 percent, to close at 8,313.72.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand stocks ended marginally higher subdued trading. The benchmark NZX-50 Index closed 9.9 points, or 0.2 percent, higher at 4,068.63.


Updated : 2020-12-02 21:01 GMT+08:00