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Korea drags Asian markets down

South Korea is weighing the cost of a typhoon that claimed 87 lives.
South Korea is weighing the cost of a typhoon that claimed 87 lives.

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(CNN) -- With Japan's market closed, Asian stocks ended mainly weaker on Monday. A sharp fall for typhoon-battered South Korea offset gains for Hong Kong and Australia.

Taiwan and Singapore were in the red, but their declines were relatively muted.

In Australia, strength in resources issues balanced a fall for the market's biggest stock, News Corp. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose about 0.1 percent to 3,189.8 after touching 3200 earlier in the day.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 1 percent ahead to 10,992.73, with gains for leading property companies. Big bank HSBC was steady at HK$100.50.

South Korea, the region's other main market, slipped as the country counted the economic impact of a devastating typhoon that claimed at least 87 lives at the weekend. Damage from the typhoon is estimated at more than $1 billion. (Full story)

The Kospi was off 1.8 percent to 753.61, with falls for exporters whose shipments may be delayed by port damage.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics finished more than 5 percent lower at 437,500 won and leading automaker Hyundai Motor lost 3 percent to 38,700 won. But SK Telecom rose 2.4 percent to 193,000 won.

Marine stocks weakened, with the world's biggest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries, falling 1.6 percent and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard losing 4.2 percent.

But building leader Hyundai Engineering and Construction was up almost 4 percent to 2135 won.

Japan's market was closed Monday for a national holiday.

Taiwan's Taiex weighted index ended down 0.39 percent to 5623.22 on selling of blue chips. Leading laptop maker Quanta has announced a $128 million rights issue. (Full story)

The market's biggest stock, chip foundry TSMC, was down 1.5 percent to T$67.00.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index is reversing early gains to be down 0.3 percent to 1579.12. Department store operator Robinson jumped more than 20 percent to S$8.75 after it said it would sell its retail business.

Wall Street stocks lost ground last week but still finished Friday in positive territory, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 0.5 percent higher. (Full story)

A focus for markets this week is Tuesday's meeting of the Federal Open Market Comittee, the U.S. central bank's policy-making arm. No change in interest rates is expected, but attention will be on the statement the FOMC makes. (Full story)

In Australia Monday, mining giant Rio Tinto was up 0.5 percent to A$33.78 and rival BHP Billiton ended 0.2 percent higher to A$10.81. News Corp was down 1.6 percent to A$12.59.

Insurer and funds manager AMP was up 0.3 percent to A$6.73 on speculation that No.3 bank Westpac may make a bid for it. Westpac eased 0.3 percent to A$16.27.

Australia's biggest retailer Coles Myer was flat at A$7.27 ahead of Friday's annual result.

Utility Australian Gas Light was down 0.2 percent to A$10.45 after it said it would ask the Federal Court to rule on its plans to buy 35 percent of the Loy Yang power station in Victoria state.

The Australian competition regulator last week blocked AGL's bid to buy Loy Yang. The Loy Yang partners on Monday extended the sale period to December 19, and Malaysia's Genting said it had lodged a rival bid for the power station.

New Zealand's Top 50 rose nearly one percent to a 15-month closing high, with Fletcher Challenge Forests unveiling plans to sell its timberland for NZ$685 million ($399 million).

In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index is expected to move between 10,500 and 11,000 when trading resumes Tuesday. That comes after last week's 0.58 percent rise to 10,712.81.

Last Tuesday, the Nikkei hit a 14-month closing high of 10,922.04 but then retreated for two sessions and needed a 1.58 percent rally on Friday to ensure a fifth straight winning week.

Analysts said overheating fears were likely to be balanced by recent data pointing to an economic recovery.

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