Today's markets

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The Independent Online

The FTSE had risen 26.9 points to 6315.2 at Noon today.

The FTSE had risen 26.9 points to 6315.2 at Noon today.

Most Asian stock markets closed higher Monday on the back of last week's gains on Wall Street.

The Japanese benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 319.19 points, or 2.17 percent, to 15,015.70. On Friday, the average closed down 23.85 points, or 0.16 percent.

A rally in New York shares bolstered a rebound by technology and communications issues in Tokyo, lifting the Nikkei index higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95.55 to 10,712.91 at Friday's close. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index closed at 2,917.39, up 164.73.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section was up 20.26 points, or 1.48 percent, to 1,385.74 at Monday's close. The TOPIX closed down 2.69 points, or 0.20 percent, on Friday.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 110.94 yen, up 0.32 yen from late Friday but below its late New York level of 111.36 yen Friday.

South Korean shares also closed sharply higher, with the key index rising 3.7 percent on heavy foreign buying. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 19.99 points to 554.80.

In Hong Kong, the blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 219.21 points, or 1.4 percent, closing at 15,408.54. On Friday, the index had gained 177.81 points, or 1.18 percent.

Brokers said stocks rallied on the growing belief by investors that there will be a cut in U.S. interest rates early next year.

The Hong Kong market was also boosted by Friday's gains on Wall Street.

The market was closed in Thailand for a holiday.

Elsewhere:

SINGAPORE: Shares closed higher on bargain-hunting and improved sentiment following Friday's Wall Street gains. The Straits Times Index rose 44.13 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,004.29.

JAKARTA: Indonesian shares closed lower on selling in heavyweight Telkom on speculation its weighting in the Morgan Stanley Capital International Indonesia Index will fall sharply next year after MSCI announced plans to change its global stock indexes. The Composite Index fell 2.4 percent, or 10.335 points, to 421.473.

TAIPEI: Taiwan share prices closed slightly higher following gains on Wall Street. The benchmark Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange rose 31.58 points, or 0.60 percent, to 5,284.41.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares closed moderately higher, with brokers saying the positive tone seen last week was still evident. The NZSE-40 Capital Index closed at 1975.66, up 9.58 points, or 0.5 percent.

MANILA: Philippine stocks closed lower, with many investors remaining on the sidelines awaiting the outcome of President Joseph Estrada's impeachment trial, which began last week. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 6.65 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,393.71.

SYDNEY: The Australian stock market closed higher. The All Ordinaries Index rose 23.4 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,255.9.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian share prices closed mixed with buying centered on selective key stocks. The Composite Index ended at 736.09 points, up 2.60 points, or 0.4 percent.

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