Profit-takers depress Taipei

SHARE prices in Taipei closed sharply lower, pushing the index below 5,000, due mainly to profit-taking aimed at speculative issues.

The weighted index, which at one point slid about 112 points, closed 88.13 points, 1.76 per cent, down at 4,925.15. Turnover shrank to NT$56.57 billion.

Profit-taking was heavy in speculative stocks, which had risen sharply in recent weeks, according to brokers.

''Today's profit-taking reflected that the market remained in consolidation,'' said Mr Vincent Hwang, of National Securities.

SYDNEY AUSTRALIAN stocks rebounded at the close, powered by lower-than-expected jobless figures.

''It has been a very good performance, obviously due to the employment data,'' a BOS Stockbroking broker said.

Star performer was Fairfax, which closed at a record high after Publishing and Broadcasting, a private Kerry Packer firm, said it owned 10.45 per cent.

The All Ordinaries closed up 10.8 points at 1,665.7.

The market will be closed today and on Monday for Easter.

SEOUL STOCKS fell for the first time in four days after sharp gains in large-capitalisation shares.

Brokers said the fall was a correction following recent rises and that the market remained positive.

The composite stock index fell 4.42 points to close at 695.07 after rising 33.88 points in the last four days.

''It's simply a correction after the heavy gains these few days. Overall it is still a strong market,'' said Mr Jung Kee-bong, of Lucky Securities.

Trading volume and turnover remained heavy. TOKYO STOCKS ended moderately firmer on a last-minute rally by dealers, extending the year's closing high for the Nikkei average.

However, the index failed to close above 20,000, which it last did in March last year. Bullish sentiment remained, brokers said.

''Overall, price moves are becoming sluggish since issues leading the market got too diverse,'' said Mr Masahiko Tsuyuzaki, of Tachibana Securities. ''Also, investors took a wait-and-see attitude ahead of April options settlements on Friday.'' The 225-share Nikkei average was up 138.04 points, 0.7 per cent, at 19,967.27, with an estimated 700 million shares traded.

The broader first section TOPIX index was up 9.48 points, 0.61 per cent, at 1,568.70.

SINGAPORE PRICES bounced well off their lows but ended down as investors took profits ahead of a holiday after a five-day run to record highs.

''Profit-taking was there but not aggressive. I think we will see more by the middle of next week,'' one broker said.

The 30-share Straits Times Industrial index hit a record of 1,722.94 in early trading but ended at 1,718.40, down 2.8 points from Wednesday's record close. The index was hovering around the day's low of 1,709.17 until the last hour.

Another broker said some speculators had exited the market on ideas that the Singapore authorities might tighten trading rules amid heavy volumes.

The market is closed today, reopening on Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR THE stock market reversed its early trend to close lower due to heavy profit-taking and concerns about a planned political rally in opposition-held northeastern Kelantan state.

The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange composite index closed down 4.12 points at 657.23, after hitting a 1993 high of 663.75 in the morning.

Brokers said players used the planned rally against the ruler of Kelantan as an excuse to take profits after a week of frenzied buying. ''There were fears that the rally will turn nasty,'' said a broker.

BANGKOK THE Stock Exchange of Thailand index edged up 3.46 points in continued light trading to close at 858.49.

A broker said a total of 36 million shares worth 2.7 billion baht had changed hands.

The broker said political uncertainty and two cases before the courts, one about alleged share manipulation and the other arising from the collapse of a finance company, had dampened confidence.

The broker anticipated no major recovery in the short term due to the holiday next week.

JAKARTA STOCKS closed mixed in moderate trade in selected counters. Volume was boosted by trading on the crossing and block board.

''Bank Internasional Indonesia met selling pressure on fears of a possible rights issue to raise funds for acquiring property,'' a foreign securities house broker said.

''But foreign investors are not keen on it.'' The official index closed at 307.81, down from Wednesday's 308.37.

WELLINGTON NEW Zealand shares continued the week's trend to end the half day steady in very quiet pre-holiday trade.

The NZSE capital-40 index closed up 1.91 at 1,562.3 points. Volume was NZ$24 million.

The market is closed until Tuesday.

There were some significant lines of smaller stocks going through, which Mr Paul Nicolson, of Buttle Wilson, said indicated institutional switching.

MANILA PHILIPPINE stock markets were closed yesterday and will be today for public holidays. They reopen on Monday.

The Chinese share prices are provided by Telerate. All other prices are provided by Reuter.