Foreign Market Wrap

Asian stocks ended on a mixed note Thursday, with Japan's Nikkei 225 advancing on gains in shares of Toyota, Sony and other producers of goods for export as the yen extended its recent slide against the dollar.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average added 36.79 points, or 0.22 percent, to finish at 17,047.83 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 17.28 points, or 0.1 percent, to finish at 19,222.84.

Traders said foreign buying, particularly of steel shares from European accounts, looked strong, though profit-taking on the previous day's rise limited the Nikkei's gains.

Steel's gains came on reports that Nippon Steel Corp. was to gain control of Brazil's Usiminas by acquiring a majority stake in the steel-maker's top shareholder. The Japanese company later confirmed the report.

Nippon Steel rose 0.50 percent to 601 yen (US$5.09) and Kobe Steel Ltd. added 0.51 percent to 395 yen (US$3.35).

Other gainers included precision instruments makers over news that Japanese optics maker Hoya Corp. will buy camera maker Pentax Corp. in a stock swap estimated at 91 billion yen (US$771 million). They will combine operations on Oct. 1, 2007 in a move to remain competitive in the imaging field against other Japanese rivals.

Hoya posted a 0.45 percent to 4,510 yen (US$38.22) and Pentax jumped 7.48 percent to 690 yen (US$5.85).


JAKARTA: Indonesian shares closed at a new record high, with gains in telecommunication, consumer and bank stocks. The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index rose 22.28, or 1.3 percent, to close at 1,789.08 points.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's stock index ended flat as profit-taking offset gains in blue chips, property and plantation stocks. The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index of 100 blue chips climbed 0.38 point to 1,076.68.

MANILA: Philippine shares rose as investors set aside jitters caused by Bank of Thailand's restrictions on foreign investments and took advantage of the past sessions' weakness. The benchmark 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index finished 32.94 points, or 1.2 percent, up at 2862.51.

MUMBAI: Indian shares climbed slightly, propped up by gains in index heavyweight Reliance Industries, while others fell off. The Bombay Stock Exchange's 30-stock Sensitive Index, or Sensex, was up 44.65 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,384.86 points.

SEOUL: South Korean shares fell on selling in banking and telecom stocks. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell 5.81 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,436.47.

SHANGHAI: Chinese shares fell, as pressure from an upcoming share offering by the country's biggest life insurer ended a five-session winning streak. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.3 percent to 2,342.94 points. The Shenzhen Composite Index fell 1.3 percent to 540.35.

SINGAPORE: Singapore shares ended flat, with two real estate investment trusts shining amid a mixed performance in blue chips. The Straits Times Index barely budged, rising 0.01 points to 2,920.8.

TAIPEI: Taiwan shares fell slightly, led by declines in the construction sector. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange dropped 27.41 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,620.94.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand stocks recorded another record high as the market looked to extend recent gains to the end of the year. The benchmark NZX-50 index rose 23.7 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,028.68

SYDNEY: Australian stocks fell from a record close a day earlier with the resource sector dragging the market down. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 24.3 points to 5,583.5.

With files from wire services