Today's markets

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The Independent Online

The FTSE had fallen 4.3 points to 6426.1 at Noon today.

The FTSE had fallen 4.3 points to 6426.1 at Noon today.

Asian stock markets ended the week mixed Friday, with prices falling both in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The Japanese benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average slipped 42.73 points, or 0.29 percent, to 14,587.03. On Thursday, the average closed down 212.11 points, or 1.43 percent.

Traders said buyers were sidelined by Japanese media reports that opposition parties were poised to submit a no-confidence motion against unpopular Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Monday.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section ended down 0.65 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,379.63. The TOPIX closed down 21.77 points, or 1.55 percent, the day before.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 108.78 yen, up 0.04 yen from Thursday in Tokyo but below its overnight level of 109.04 yen in late New York trading.

Hong Kong stocks were dragged down by an overnight slump on Wall Street.

The Hang Seng Index, the Hong Kong market's key indicator of blue chips, fell 117.50 points, or 0.8 percent, to 15,180.85. On Thursday, the index gained 170.95 points, or 1.1 percent.

Brokers said the market's decline was led by telecom stocks following Thursday's fall in New York, where the Nasdaq composite index shed 133.61 points, or 4.2 percent, to close at 3,031.88.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 51.57 points, or 0.5 percent, at 10,656.03.

Taiwan shares also extended losses Friday in the wake of overnight fall in the U.S. Nasdaq market and amid concerns about political instability at home.

The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange closed 102.77 points, or 1.88 percent, lower at 5,351.36, following a 4.9 percent tumble Thursday.

Taiwan investors regard the Nasdaq as a benchmark indicator for electronics stocks, which are heavily represented on the local bourse.

Participants said investors were also worried about the political stalemate between the government and the opposition-controlled legislature as well as efforts by lawmakers to oust President Chen Shui-bian for allegedly abusing his authority to scrap a nuclear power plant.

Elsewhere:

SINGAPORE: Share prices fell across the board following overnight declines on Wall Street. The Straits Times Index dropped 28.80 points, or 1.45 percent, to 1,953.34.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares closed higher, led by a surge in Fletcher Energy after the market watchdog, the Commerce Commission, cleared the way for it to be purchased by the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell. The NZSE-40 Capital Index rose 14.62 points, or 0.73 percent, to 2,009.55.

MANILA: Philippine stocks edged higher, boosted by bargain-hunting in select issues ahead of the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada next month. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index rose 2.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,470.52.

SYDNEY: The Australian share market closed higher, boosted by gains in blue chip stocks. The All Ordinaries Index rose 24.1 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,275.6.

SEOUL: Share prices closed lower following overnight declines on Wall Street. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 3.78 points, or 0.68 percent, to 551.26.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares closed higher on selective buying by government-linked funds. The Composite Index rose 5.09 points, or 0.69 percent, to 735.09.

JAKARTA: Indonesian share prices closed higher. The Composite Index rose 1 percent, or 4.162 points, to 421.143.

BANGKOK: Thai share prices closed higher on improved market sentiment. The Stock Exchange of Thailand index rose 4.72 points, or 1.6 percent, to 294.71.

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