THE Taipei stock market closed at a 12-month high in active, bullish trade as financials performed strongly, brokers said. The weighted index opened moderately higher and a late wave of buying pushed it up to close 153.45 points, 3.2 per cent, higher at 4,948.62. Turnover was an active NT$77.65 billion against Thursday's NT$74.67 billion. Brokers attributed the rise to a front-page story in the China Times quoting unnamed officials as saying that the central bank was considering lowering domestic interest rates. Many brokers and money market dealers doubted that the bank, which is concerned about inflation, would lower interest rates any time soon. A bank official said it was just routinely reviewing policy. SINGAPORE THE 30-share Straits Times Industrial index finished at a record closing high of 1,688.16 against the previous record of 1,680.96 set on February 25 on an impressive volume. Brokers said that shares, particularly blue chips, surged ahead on brisk demand underpinned by sentiment about sound Singapore fundamentals. ''There was a frenzy of buying from overseas institutions of a very wide range of stocks,'' Anthony Lee, a trader at Baring Securities, said. The index was 19.10 points or 1.14 per cent higher than Thursday's close. SYDNEY AFTER a jittery start, Australian stocks rallied to their highest close in 10 months on futures-related trading and positive economic news. Investors were soothed by Treasurer John Dawkins' statement that dividend imputation arrangements were safe and by his commitment to reduce the budget deficit, brokers said. The All Ordinaries index ended the day up 14.3 at 1,683.1, the highest close since May 25, 1992, when it reached 1,684.1. TOKYO STOCKS ended sharply higher on widespread expectations that the government's planned economic stimulus package would kick-start the economy. But profit-taking pushed prices off peaks, brokers said. Turnover ballooned to an estimated 1.5 billion shares, the highest since 1.63 billion on November 29, 1989. The 225-share Nikkei average was up 347.85 points, 1.82 per cent, to 19,446.94, after briefly soaring to a high of 19,750.93, up 651.84, in early afternoon. The broader first section TOPIX index was up 55.12 points, 3.75 per cent, to 1,526.31. SEOUL STOCKS ended higher in brisk trade as a batch of indicators released recently showed an improvement in economic activities, brokers said. The market will be closed on Monday for a national holiday. ''The trade deficit narrowed in March, thanks to an increase in exports. Industrial output rose in February. The economy looks better now,'' said Kim Dong-ik of Daishin Securities. The composite stock index closed 15.76 points higher at 681.37. BANGKOK STOCK prices clawed their way higher in late afternoon thin trade, led by gains among major bank and property shares, brokers said. The SET index closed at the day's high at 857.20, gaining 5.43 points. ''This is a sideways market. Turnover was so thin that the SET rise did not have any significance,'' said a broker at Nava Finance and Securities Co. Turnover was 2.17 billion baht. KUALA LUMPUR PRICES extended their gains at the close on heavy volume with speculative stock Idris hogging the limelight, brokers said. But prices were mostly off the day's highs on profit-taking. The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange composite index closed up 1.89 points at a year's high of 651.45. It earlier touched an intra-day high of 655.64. Turnover soared to a record 547.3 million shares, against 327.7 million on Thursday. The previous high was 499.12 million set on March 9. MANILA SHARES opened weak but closed strong as investors snapped up selected blue chips and mining issues ahead of next week's Easter holidays. The Manila Stock Exchange composite index rose 20.01 points to 1,480.30 on the strength of the commercial/industrial and mining indices, defying projections that the market would move sideways. Analysts also said the grant of emergency powers to President Fidel Ramos to solve the power crisis had buoyed the market. WELLINGTON THE New Zealand share market closed flat with most of the leading stocks steady to better. The NZSE-40 capital index ended 0.03 up at 1,566.68 on volume worth NZ$35 million. The prospect seemed to be that the market would continue to drift. ''I wish it wasn't going to be more of the same, but I think it might be,'' Buttle Wilson's Peter Halligan said. JAKARTA STOCKS closed mixed in fairly active one-session trade, bringing the official index down by 1.05 points to 310.08, brokers said. They said profit-taking dominated the market after the exchange let further shares resume trading. ''We found it a bit active at the closing, but people generally remained cautious in taking positions,'' one broker said. The Chinese share prices are provided by Telerate. All other prices are provided by Reuter.