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Asia Markets: stocks mixed as outage ignored
( 2003-08-15 13:32) (Agencies)

Japan's main stocks index rose above the key 10,000 point mark for the first time in more than a month on Friday, but then fell back as investors took profits after five days of gains.

Other Asian stock markets were mixed, but there was little fallout from the North American power outage since it was clearly an accident and not an act of terror.

The outage did lead to a slight fall in the dollar against the yen but, as profit-taking intensified on the stock market, the greenback recovered to trade flat. The dollar was slightly stronger against the euro.

The power problems prevented electronic ACCESS trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange for several hours. When trading was resumed at 10:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, crude oil prices were slightly down from pre-blackout levels, but up on the day.

Gold prices were steady.

In Tokyo, investors shrugged off the outage that swept across New York and other parts of the northeastern United States and Canada, focusing on Tuesday's better-than-expected Japanese growth data and solid U.S. jobs and trade numbers from Thursday.

"The effect on market sentiment from the power outage appears to be slight, and we've seen very strong foreign buying acting as the base for driving us up, as we did yesterday," said Masayoshi Yano, senior manager at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

"It's still an open question as to whether we'll actually be able to close above 10,000, but in any case the tone of the market appears to be solid right now."

The index roared to an early high of 10,038.09 points but by midsession it had slipped to 9,858.43, down 0.56 percent, as investors took profits from the five days of gains.

Taiwan shares hit a 14-month high in early trade, boosted by technical shares, but many other markets were down.

Korean shares were up and Australia and Malaysia were flat, but Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and New Zealand lost ground.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International index of markets outside Japan was down 0.11 percent.

The dollar was at 118.92/95 yen at 10:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, little changed from around 119.00 late on Thursday, when it had risen as high as 119.70.

Against the euro, the dollar was at $1.1260/65, slightly up from late Thursday levels of around $1.1285.

"That the European economy is not in such a good shape is no surprise, but the market has now seen enough evidence and is starting to sell euros," said Hiroyuki Watanabe, manager at Shinsei Bank in Tokyo.

Traders said they did not expect the U.S. power outages to have a significant long-term effect on the dollar, given they appeared to be accidental and not related to any acts of terror.

Both the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank of Japan have said their settlement systems were unaffected by the power outages.

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