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The Independent Online

Asian stock markets closed generally mixed, with prices rising in Tokyo and Hong Kong for a second straight session. The Japanese benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average climbed 143.93 points, or 0.84 per cent, to close at 17,286.83.

Asian stock markets closed generally mixed, with prices rising in Tokyo and Hong Kong for a second straight session. The Japanese benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average climbed 143.93 points, or 0.84 per cent, to close at 17,286.83.

On Friday, the average closed up 106.00 points, or 0.62 per cent. The Nikkei index rose in the morning as investors bought high-tech issues and electronics stocks following a 72.06-point gain in the Nasdaq composite index, which closed at 4,246.82 on Friday, traders said. Also in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.34 points to close at 10,812.05 on Friday.

But activity dropped off considerably in the afternoon, with many participants stepping off to the sidelines to await a central bank decision on whether to raise interest rates, traders said. The Bank of Japan announced later in the day it would stick to its zero rate policy.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 108.16 yen, 0.24 yen from late Friday in Tokyo and above its late New York level of 107.87 yen Friday. The currency ranged from 107.29 yen to 108.40 yen. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index rose 248.62 points, or 1.4 per cent, closing at 17,834.78. On Friday, the index had gained 136.66 points, or 0.78 per cent. Brokers attributed the uptrend to U.S. government reports on Friday that showed the Federal Reserve's six interest-rate hikes over the past year were cooling off the economy and keeping inflation under control. The reports dispelled worries of a further increase in U.S. interest rates this year.

The markets were closed in South Korea and Thailand for holidays. Elsewhere:

TAIPEI: Taiwan shares closed higher, led by gains in the financial sector after the central bank announced a rise in the interest rate it pays on bank reserves to 4 percent from 3.2 percent. The Weighted Stock Price Index rose 67.39 points, or 0.79 percent, to 8,585.52.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand share prices closed slightly lower. The benchmark NZSE-40 Capital Index slipped 3.85 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,115.93.

MANILA: Philippine stocks closed lower, dragged down by the country's widening budget deficit, declining investments and political uncertainties highlighted by a drawn-out hostage crisis in the southern Philippines. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 7.29 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,546.60.

SYDNEY: Australian stocks closed higher in a lackluster market, boosted by gains in global media company News Corp. The All Ordinaries Index rose p rose 9.4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,313.4.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian share prices closed lower on profit-taking. The benchmark Composite Index fell 9.991 points, or 1.2 percent, to 846.33.

SINGAPORE: Share prices closed mixed. The Straits Times Index rose 28.05 points, or 1.35 percent, to 2,107.94.

JAKARTA: Indonesian shares closed slightly higher as select buying in blue chips lifted the main index. The Composite Index rose 0.5 percent, or 2.688 points, to 506.802.

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