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Tokyo, other Asian markets end higher

Japanese banks will have to value their shareholdings at current market prices from next Monday
Japanese banks will have to value their shareholdings at current market prices from next Monday  

TOKYO, Japan -- Tokyo led almost all Asian markets to a higher close Friday as export stocks rose on the last trading day of Japan's business year first half.

There was a hint of optimism returning to the region, with Australia, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Mumbai all moving higher.

Hong Kong was the standout performer, with its Hang Seng index putting on 3.6 percent.

In Japan, the weaker yen helped automakers such as Nissan, Toyota and Honda to finish the week on a strong note.

But leading banks Mizuho Holdings, UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group stayed down.

New 'mark to market' rules apply next week

From Monday, under new "mark to market" rules, banks will have to value their extensive shareholdings at market value.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 share average put on 78.15 points or 0.81 percent to close at 9774.68. At one point in morning trade it rose as high as 9933.69.

The broader, capital-weighted TOPIX index rose 19.64 points or 1.96 percent to 1023.42.

Asian markets were buoyed also by Wall Street, where on Thursday the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 114.03 to 8681.42 on the strength of bluechips.

Nasdaq ended down 3.333 points at 1460.71.

Australia puts on 1.6 percent

Industrial output rose only marginally in Japan in August  

Australia's S&P/ASX200 was up 48.8 points or 1.63 percent to 3049.5, with market heavyweight News Corp among the gainers. But two other big stocks, Telstra and National Australia Bank, finished down slightly.

In New Zealand the Top 40 put on about half a percent to 1858.82 and Seoul's Kospi closed up 1.55 percent or 7.3 points at 479.68.

Korean chipmakers Hynix Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics eased, along with SK Telecom, but Korea Telecom put on about 1 percent. Samsung SDI was among the big gainers, putting on 7.8 percent.

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng index closed up 3.6 percent, putting on 349.9 points to 9950.7.

Market heavyweight HSBC rose more than 5 percent to HK$80.50 and China Mobile was up 3.6 percent to HK$24.65.

Automakers do well

In Japan, top-ranked automaker Toyota Motor Corp rose almost 4 percent to 3060 yen, second-ranked Nissan rose 1 percent to 497 yen and No. 3 Honda also was up 1 percent to 3870 yen.

Yen-selling intervention by Japanese authorities in the morning, following their selling overseas the previous day, helped ease concerns about earnings of Japanese automakers and other globally exposed firms.

Mizuho Holdings, the world's largest bank by assets, fell 1.92 percent to 460,000 yen, while UFJ Holdings Inc gave up 2.95 percent to 592,000.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan's dominant mobile phone carrier, added 3.87 percent to 1.61 million yen ahead of its planned launch next week of the world's first commercial third-generation (3G) network.

PC and chipmaker NEC Corp dropped 8.81 percent to 973 yen after it forecast on Friday a group net loss of 150 billion yen for the year to March 2002, compared with an original estimate of 65 billion yen profit.

Sony slashes profit outlook

Sony Corp ended unchanged at 4,390 yen before the electronics manufacturer announced after the close a 90 percent cut in its group net profit forecast to 10 billion yen for the same period.

Analysts said investors including public pension funds were detected on Friday morning making last-minute attempts at window-dressing to lift the TOPIX index, the preferred yardstick of institutional investors.

The government released weaker-than-expected industrial output data Friday morning The 0.8 percent output rise month-on-month in August was worse than the median forecast of 2.9 percent in a Reuters survey of economists.

Other data showed Japan's unemployment rate remained at a record five percent for a second consecutive month in August.

Despite the upturn Friday, it was the Nikkei's worst April-September loss since in 1990, when it tumbled 30 percent in the wake of the bursting of Japan's asset bubble.

"Don't go getting bullish yet. The market has reached attractive levels, but today's uptick was largely due to investors hoping to raise the value of their portfolios," Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Shinko Securities, told Reuters.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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