Today's markets

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The Independent Online

The FTSE had climbed 47.2 points to 6189.4 at Noon today.

The FTSE had climbed 47.2 points to 6189.4 at Noon today.

Wall Street's sell-off rattled some Asian stock markets Friday, but most of the early losers rebounded well into the black and the top European exchanges opened with gains as worries about Nasdaq's latest woes fizzled.

The Tokyo market closed higher, Seoul blue chips bounced back from a 4 per cent loss to show a 1 per cent gain and Hong Kong prices rose by 3.3 per cent.

As European traders went to work, London blue chips rose by 0.5 per cent, while prices were up by 1.8 per cent in Frankfurt and 0.6 per cent in Paris during late morning dealings.

Traders had been wary, but not panicky, early in Asia.

"As the news was digested here, it has not given us the same kick in the teeth as in the overseas markets," said Dianne Jenner, an analyst at the brokerage Dicksons Ltd. in Sydney, Australia, where the All Ordinaries Index finished up by 0.2 per cent.

On the region's biggest market, the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average finished with a gain of 186.82 points, or 1.3 per cent, at 14,835.33.

Hong Kong blue chips opened with a modest loss but turned higher within minutes and climbed steadily into the afternoon.

Smaller markets showed some big early losses in response to the Nasdaq's dive of 4 per cent on Thursday, which pushed it down by 36 per cent for the year.

The Nasdaq selling spilled over into the Dow Jones industrial average, which fell by 2 per cent.

Prices plunged by 4 per cent early in Seoul but showed a solid rebound to close with a gain of 1 per cent by the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi.

Shares finished with a gain of 0.1 per cent in Singapore, where they had been modestly lower most of the session.

In Taiwan, where semiconductor manufacturing is a key component of the economy and the market has taken a massive beating lately, shares bounced back from early losses to close up by 1.6 per cent.

Market worries don't appear likely to vanish any time soon, however.

"This isn't a trend, just buying at the bottom," said Fiachra Aodh MacCana, head of research, at West LB Securities Pacific Ltd.'s branch in Tokyo.

Much of the negative focus remains centered around formerly high-flying tech shares.

One day after the Hong Kong telecom and Internet group Pacific Century CyberWorks tumbled to a record low, the daily tabloid Hong Kong iMail splashed the story over its entire front page, with huge numbers showing the price - 4.85 Hong Kong dollars (62 U.S. cents).

"When will the tech bears leave Richard Li's PCCW alone?" the newspaper's headline asked.

The company run by Li, a son of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, has lost more than 80 percent of its value since February, when it announced plans to buy Hong Kong's top phone company, Cable & Wireless HKT, in Asia's biggest-ever corporate takeover.

Critics worry about the debt PCCW took on to finance the stock-and-cash deal. But PCCW rallied by 11.3 per cent Friday.

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