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 Recent Stories
   European Stocks Close Mainly Higher
 
Wary Rise in Stocks, But Gains Thin
Associated Press
SINGAPORE — Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday, but trade was cautious and many investors were unsure if the recovery of battered U.S. shares would last.

Major regional stock markets bounced at the open after the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the Dow Jones index soared for a second day in a row, wiping out much of last week's huge losses.

But some investors in Asia were not convinced by Wall Street's comeback and profit-taking pared early gains by the close. The long Easter holiday, starting on Thursday or Friday, also weighed on sentiment.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended up 0.97 percent at 15,427.20 after touching 15,667.52, while Taiwan's TAIEX fell 2.18 percent to 9,104.4 after opening at 9,435.02.

"Investors are unwilling to chase up stock prices at these levels after the market rebounded since they are not sure whether the Nasdaq composite has really turned firmer," said Jason Ho, director of sales at BNP Prime Peregrine Securities.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 average ended 117.10 points or 0.62 percent higher at 19,086.62, after struggling between losses and gains for most of the day. While investors took some heart in Wall Street's performance, many were busy reshuffling their portfolios ahead of a reconfiguration of the index on April 24.

Australian shares closed firmer across the board on Wednesday but traders cautioned this week's recovery looked unconvincing.

"Many of the tech stocks are still overvalued and there could be more bad news to come," suggested Hartley Poynton broker Dirk Van der Struyf.

The S&P;/ASX 200 index closed up 58.9 points or almost two percent at 3,069.2, just a touch off the day's high.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was the region's best performer, rising 2.58 percent to 2,058.9. Among the top gainers were chip-maker Chartered Semiconductor, up S$1.40 at S$12.70 and Creative Technology, up S$2.50 at S$38.80.

Stocks Soar, But For How Long?

Many U.S. traders were surprised by the size of the rally on Wall Street, saying they expected a retesting of recent lows before there could be any sustainable advance.

The Nasdaq on Tuesday rose 254.41 points, or 7.19 percent to 3,793.57, its biggest one-day point gain ever as strong earnings reports renewed faith in technology companies' prospects for rapid growth. The index rose 6.56 percent on Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 1.75 percent to 10,767.42, building on Monday's 2.69 percent gain.

The dollar consolidated across the board on Wednesday on easing fears of a mass exodus of global investment from the United States.

In European trade, the dollar was at 104.55 yen compared with New York's close of 104.68, while the euro was steady at $0.9460.

June 10-year Japanese government bond futures strengthened to close near their Wednesday highs, helped by bargain-hunting, dealers said.

June JGB futures ended the Tokyo session at 132.42, up 0.22 of a point from Tuesday's close of 132.20. It moved in a range of 131.96 to 132.44.

Tech Shares In A Muddle

South Korea's tech-led Kosdaq over-the-counter market ended up 2.67 points or 1.60 percent at 169.66, while the main Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) index rose 1.04 percent to 755.08.

Analysts said futures-linked sales pared earlier gains on some blue-chips, including giant chip maker Samsung Electronics, which dropped 0.66 percent to 300,000 won.

The OTC market, which shed 20 percent in its three previous sessions, remained weak, analysts said and on Wednesday investment trust companies were busy unloading shares.

Tech shares in Japan were also mixed on Wednesday with Internet giant Softbank extending its long downtrend by finishing at 46,300 yen, down 5,000 yen, or 9.75 percent, while Hikari Tsushin ended ask-only 25,800 yen.

But Yahoo Japan finished up by its daily limit of two million yen, or 6.68 percent, at 31.95 million after reporting a tripling of revenues. Debutant Rakuten Inc, a Internet shopping mall operator, finished at 30 million — lower than its IPO price of 33 million but better than its disappointing first trading price of 19.9 million.

Hong Kong's Pacific Century CyberWorks lost HK$0.50 or 3.51 percent to HK$13.75, on concerns about its bid to take over Cable & Wireless HKT might be affected by its share price.


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