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The Independent Online

The FTSE had risen 26.2 points to 6411.6 by Noon today.

The FTSE had risen 26.2 points to 6411.6 by Noon today.

Most Asian stock markets closed higher Monday, with the key index in Manila surging to its biggest one-day gain in 13 years on expectations for an end to the political crisis in the Philippines.

The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index soared 212.25 points to 1,500.10, its largest surge since rising 16.3 per cent on July 28, 1987.

Investors were cheered by recent defections from embattled President Joseph Estrada's coalition that they think will bring a rapid end to his administration. Estrada is accused of taking illegal gambling payoffs.

In recent days Estrada's trade secretary and chief political adviser have quit and the Senate president, House speaker, and more than 50 other lawmakers have deserted the president's LAMP coalition.

"There is growing speculation that with the recent defections, President Estrada may soon step down," said Erwin Balita, analyst at Securities 2000 Inc.

Impeachment on corruption charges appeared virtually certain after a congressional committee Monday rapidly voted to send a complaint directly to the full House of Representatives, where more than the required one-third of congressmen have said they will back impeachment.

Also, the peso registered its largest single-day gain against the dollar, closing at its highest point in two weeks.

The dollar ended at 48.050 pesos on the Philippine Dealing System, down from its 51-peso close on Tuesday. Philippine financial markets were closed from Wednesday to Friday last week for holidays and a typhoon.

In Tokyo, the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 533.66 points, or 3.60 percent, to close at 15,371.44 on the improving outlook for U.S. technology stocks. On Thursday, the average closed down 34.61 points, or 0.23 percent.

Japanese financial markets were closed Friday for Culture Day, a national holiday.

In New York, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 22.55 points to 3,451.58 on Friday, bringing to 5.3 percent its gains for the week, even as the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 62.56 points to 10,817.95.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 107.26 yen, down 0.92 yen from its level of 108.18 yen late Thursday in Tokyo and below the 107.40 yen it fetched late Friday in New York trading.

In Singapore, shares closed sharply lower on profit-taking following last week's gains. The Straits Times Index slid 54.66 points, or 2.65 percent, to 2,006.84.

Elsewhere:

HONG KONG: Share prices closed generally higher, lifted by gains in telecom stocks. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 77.03 points, or 0.5 percent, ending at 15,671.15.

TAIPEI: Taiwanese stocks finished almost unchanged on continued investor caution over the possible recall of President Chen Shui-bian. The Weighted Stock Price Index slipped 19.82 points lower, or 0.34 percent, to 5,657.48.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares closed higher on gains by bellwether stock Telecom Corp. The NZSE-40 Capital Index rose 22.44 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,964.91.

SYDNEY: The Australian share market ended higher, lifted by heavyweights News Corp. and other select blue chips. The All Ordinaries Index rose 12.5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,279.0.

SEOUL: Share prices closed mixed. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 3.75 points, or 0.7 percent, to 556.66.

JAKARTA: Indonesian shares closed higher on bargain buying. The Composite Index rose 1.3 percent, or 5.433 points, to 415.267.

BANGKOK: Thai stocks ended higher. The Composite Index rose 4.09 points, or 1.4 percent, to 291.93.

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