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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 10:15 GMT
Asian markets start 2004 on high
Stock market graph and glass of champagne
Asian markets have made a strong start to 2004, on hopes for global recovery.

Shares across the region gained ground, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng index touching a 30-month high and Kuala Lumpur the only significant faller.

In South Asia, both Bombay's Sensex and the Sri Lanka all-share index marked solid advances.

The gains come after what was a bumper year in major stock markets in 2003, with the Tokyo Nikkei registering its first annual gain in four years.

Markets were closed in Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and New Zealand for the continuing New Year public holiday.

One factor in the bullish mood was the lack of big attacks in Western countries, following warnings from security services that the end-of-year holidays might have been targeted.

But local factors play a part too, with predictions that Asian carmakers, for instance, are in for a bumper year in export terms.

For Hong Kong, the expectation that China's boomtime economy will provide massive markets for companies in the island territory acted as a spur to investors.

The Hang Seng index rose 1.6% by the close to 12,780.38, having earlier reached its best level since July 2001.

In Korea, confidence about the prospects for carmarkers such as Kia and Hyundai saw the Kospi index gain 1.3%.

In Taiwan, the hopes for exporters - particularly in the key IT industry - saw the stock market shoot up 2.6%.

India's premier market in Bombay was up 1.2% in quiet trading, capitalising on a scorching performance in 2003 which had seen the Sensex rise more than 70% as outsourcing to India gained ground and the economy strengthened.


FTSE 100
22.84 0.42%
18.55 0.32%
Cac 40
14.37 0.38%
Dow Jones
78.53 0.76%
35.31 1.58%
Data delayed by at least 15 minutes

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