Bangkok up after charges laid

THE Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) Index edged up 2.25 points to close at 901.26 points yesterday following the filing on Thursday of manipulation charges against 30 people.

Trading was heavy with 119.8 million shares worth 7.2 billion baht changing hands.

One broker said the SET's gain came despite Thursday's charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission and because of moves by the central bank and mutual funds to help shore up the market.

A market analyst said the manipulation charges, while unsettling investors in the short term, would boost confidence as the authorities cleaned up the market.

TAIPEI STOCKS ended lower on profit-taking from Thursday's sharp gains, although electronics rose slightly after parliament passed copyright laws designed to avert threatened US trade sanctions.

The Weighted Index closed 62.44 points lower at 4,569.25 on moderate turnover of NT$42.34 billion against Thursday's $49.68 billion.

Profit-taking was seen from the opening. ''Players were nervous and they were quick to take profits, though the overall outlook is not pessimistic,'' said Mr Wang Jieh of Foremost Investment Services.

SYDNEY STOCKS sagged slightly in quiet trading dominated by Westpac.

''It is probably the quietest day of the week so far and the shine has gone out of a lot of stocks like Westpac,'' one broker said.

The All Ordinaries Index closed down 2.8 points at 1,702.6.

National turnover was 242 million shares worth A$352.3 million with rises beating falls by about three to two.

''There has probably been some profit-taking [on Westpac] after the recent price run-up,'' a broker said. ''There is a lot of debate now abut the commercial property market and the extent of Westpac's write-down when it reports on May 20.'' TOKYO STOCKS stemmed a five-day losing streak on a technical rebound in thin trade.

Index-linked buying by public pension and insurance funds lifted the market off morning lows but worries over the yen's strength kept most investors sidelined, brokers said.

''Most people were reluctant to move ahead of the Golden Week holidays [starting next Thursday] and the only aggressive buyers were public funds,'' said Mr Michio Sugita, head of stock trading at DB Capital Markets (Asia).

Brokers said the market was likely to remain choppy and thin next week ahead of the holiday.

SEOUL PROFIT-TAKING following sharp gains which pushed the index to 20-month highs twice this week drove the stock market down in a day of active trade.

Brokers said the market would extend its recent bull-run in today's half-day session, prompted by ample liquidity. But some analysts cautiously forecast a downward correction.

''The market is taking a rest following recent steep rises,'' said Mr H.K. Kang of Schroders Securities. ''But the technical adjustment is expected to be short-lived.'' The Composite Stock Index shed 1.89 points to 735.7.

SINGAPORE PRICES rebounded from intra-day lows as bargain hunters took the opportunity to buy selected index stocks.

''This should give you an indication that there are people waiting on the sidelines to buy,'' sales director at Peregrine Securities Yap Teong Keat said.

The 30-share Straits Times Industrial index closed at 1,773.07, down 0.14 point from Thursday's closing high but up significantly from an intra-day low of 1,753.71.

Brokers said investors' initial fears of higher inter-bank rates leading to higher interest rates were ill-founded.

WELLINGTON THE market weakened on profit-taking after five successive up days during which the NZSE-40 Capital Index equalled a year's high.

''It looks like the top has come off after some very substantial rises,'' said Mr Warne Rowllings at Jordan Sandman Were.

The NZSE-40 index fell 13.59 to 1,613.53.

MANILA PRICES shot up after a weak start as bargain-hunters turned to second-liners.

''There was selective bullishness on second-liner issues,'' said Mr Frank Borromeo, president of Jenn Woei Securities.

The Manila Composite Index jumped by 6.29 points to close at 1,546.99. The Makati Index climbed 11.84 points to close at 1,572.91.

Mr Borromeo said second-liners would continue to support the market's rise next week.

KUALA LUMPUR PRICES closed steadier on renewed speculative buying in the afternoon, but trading was thin with the market consolidating from its recent run-up.

''With blue chips consolidating after the strong gains, interest shifted back to speculative stocks,'' a dealer said. ''The market is still fundamentally strong.'' The KLSE Composite Index closed up 0.2 points at 691.65, after hitting an all-time high of 701.32 in intra-day trading on Thursday.

JAKARTA PRICES closed mostly lower in dull trading.

''Trading was active only in some selected stocks and also there was price correction on those shares,'' a dealer said.

The official index closed 0.5 points lower at 310.78.

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