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EDITIONS
Friday, 18 October, 2002, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Markets mull mixed tech fortunes
Nikkei electronic board
Asian markets hinge on technology stocks
Profit taking, and poor results from tech icon Ericsson, saw European shares give up some ground on Friday.

Many investors chose to cash in gains made on a week of rare strength in stock market which has seen European shares, as measured by the Euro Stoxx 50 index, gain 18% in little over a week.

Friday's markets
London: FTSE 100
-1%
Paris: Cac 40
-0.8%
Frankfurt: Dax
-0.3%
Tokyo: Nikkei 225 +1.4%
"We've had a substantial rally over the past seven sessions or so," said NatWest stockbrokers equity strategist Jeremy Batstone.

"So profit taking was inevitable particularly in the light of what remains a very uncertain backdrop, both geopolitically and economically."

The announcement by mobile phone maker of Ericsson a 3.9bn Swedish kronor ($417m; 270m) loss, and a downgrade in its sales forecast, also hit sentiment.

"The orders are a nightmare - we expected them to be bad, but not this bad," said Helena Nordman-Knutson, analyst at Ohman brokerage

Microsoft boost

Earlier, stock markets in Asia had skipped upwards, as investors latched onto profits from software giant Microsoft which exceeded expectations.

Microsoft's news that it had outperformed profits estimates by 16% came on the same day as other strong performances in the technology sector, such as that of mobile phone maker Nokia.

Samsung Electronics, the South Korean firm which is the world's number three mobile handset maker and dominates the global memory chip market, posted a four-fold increase in net profits for July, August and September on Friday.

The technology sector matters more than any other to Pacific and South East Asian economies.

Hopes of an upturn

Any sign of an upturn in the market for consumer electronics, PC and mobile phone - especially in the US - is likely to benefit the region's manufacturers.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index, which has been hugging 19-year lows, closed above the psychologically important 9,000 level for the first time in a fortnight.

The Nikkei closed up 1.4% on Friday at 9,086 points having risen 2% earlier in the session.

In Korea, the Kospi index jumped 4.05% to 670.79, its strongest close since 24 September, bolstered by gains in Samsung Electronics.

In Taiwan, the Taiex closed up 4.1% at 4,458 points and stocks in flat screen makers and phone key pad makers rose, including suppliers to Nokia.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng was 1.4% higher at midday local time. Shares also closed higher in Sydney.

See also:

18 Oct 02 | Business
18 Oct 02 | Business
17 Oct 02 | Business
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