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The Independent Online

Asian stock markets were mostly up at close, with Tokyo rallying on gains in technology stocks and Hong Kong rising amid easing fears of an imminent interest rate hike.

Asian stock markets were mostly up at close, with Tokyo rallying on gains in technology stocks and Hong Kong rising amid easing fears of an imminent interest rate hike.

Tokyo's 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 106.52 points, or 0.66 percent, to close at 16,206.19. The average closed up 372.18 points, or 2.37 per cent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index gained 379.94 points, or 2.3 per cent, to 17,277.39 - a rise of 0.3 per cent.

The strong gains in blue chips were triggered by U.S. manufacturing statistics that pointed to an economic slowdown in the United States. That somewhat offset fears, brought on by stronger-than-expected second quarter growth, that U.S. interest rates might rise again. A rise in U.S. interest rates is usually followed by a similar move in Hong Kong because the local currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar.

In currency dealings, the U.S. dollar was lower against the Japanese yen. The dollar bought 108.74 yen in late trading, down 0.80 yen from Tuesday in Tokyo and below its level of 109.02 yen from late Tuesday in New York.

Elsewhere:

BANGKOK: Thai shares rallied on gains in blue chips and securities stocks. The SET index rose 5.73 points, or 1.94 percent, to 301.22

MANILA: Philippine shares rose slightly, following a technical bounce for some blue chips. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index rose 2.44 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,412.77.

JAKARTA: Indonesian shares rose marginally on a technical rebound in thin trading. The JSX Composite Index rallied 0.76 points, or 0.16 percent, to 490.437.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares fell amid thin trading as most investors were cautious ahead of Friday's verdict in the sodomy trial of former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim. The Composite Index fell 2.06 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 802.53.

SEOUL: South Korean shares rose slightly on local buying. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, rose 1.23 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 728.33.

SINGAPORE: Shares fell, following a plunge on the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index late Tuesday in the United States. The Straits Times Index dropped 8.16 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 2,065.92.

SYDNEY: Australian stocks rallied on gains in the banking sector that followed a rise in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The All Ordinaries Index gained 14.5 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 3,232.3.

TAIPEI: Taiwanese shares fell on fears about the effectiveness of the new government and the loss on the technology-heavy Nasdaq in New York. The Weighted Price Index dropped 67.80 points, or 0.85 percent, to 7,916.85.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand blue chips finished higher. The NZSE-40 Capital Index rose 19.26 points, or 0.90 per cent, to 2,125.50.

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