PRICES hit record highs on Manila's two trading floors yesterday, spurred by optimism over improved fundamentals and high liquidity. The Manila Composite Index surged 29.92 points or 1.9 per cent to close at 1,594.59. The previous high was 1,583.25. The Makati Index rose 30.42 points, also 1.9 per cent, to 1,626.66. The previous highs were set on April 15. ''The market broke record highs fuelled by increasing optimism from all sides,'' said Mr Louie Bate of Baring Securities. KUALA LUMPUR STRONG gains in some blue-chip stocks pushed the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index up 9.57 points to close at an all-time high of 705. Further institutional buying in the afternoon saw the index surge past its previous high of 701.32 points set on April 22. Brokers said the strong institutional interest also restored investors' confidence in the broader market with most prices picking up from their lows. Brokers said further surge in blue chips would lead to a fresh rally. BANGKOK STOCKS ended lower for the fourth day running as investors worried about possible political implications of an investigation of alleged share price manipulation. The SET index fell 7.28 points to 849.57 on thin turnover of 2.47 billion baht. ''The parliament is about to reconvene and people are just worried about the politics,'' said a broker at Phatra Thanakit. The index has lost 51.69 points or 5.74 per cent since Monday following news that 153 individuals and companies are under investigation for price manipulation. WELLINGTON OVERSEAS buying of leading stocks helped squeeze the NZSE-40 Capital Index up to its highest level since it began in mid-1991. The index finished at 1,627.87, up 5.29, just eclipsing the previous record set on February 16 of 1,627.31. Turnover was substantial at NZ$40 million. TAIPEI STOCKS ended mixed after a late round of profit-taking erased early gains. The Weighted Index finished only 0.4 points higher at 4,527.47. Turnover remained thin at NT$28.9 billion against Wednesday's $25.86 billion. Brokers said sentiment was not pessimistic but concerns over threatened US trade sanctions and high-level talks between Taiwan and China in Singapore convinced many investors to stay on the sidelines during the session. SYDNEY THE market's key indicator plunged more than 20 points off its recent rally above 1,700 and brokers predicted further losses. The All Ordinaries fell 23.2 to 1,680.3, off a low of 1,678.6. Futures-related trading, April options expirations, bearish sentiment in the US, Wednesday's unimpressive consumer price index figures and a lack of corporate news were all cited as possible reasons for the fall. On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the June share price index dived 39.6 points to 1,675 with 2,306 lots changing hands. SEOUL THE market finished mixed, trading lower after persistent profit-taking in blue-chip shares outweighed selective buying centred on small and medium-sized companies. Brokers expect the market to show a similar trading pattern today and some analysts said large-capitalised shares would stage a mild rebound. The stock index shed 3.65 points to 724.76. SINGAPORE PRICES finished mixed with profit-taking matched by light buying. Fraser Securities research manager Najeeb Jarhom said: ''We don't expect a correction to the extent of reversing the market's uptrend.'' The 30-share Straits Times Industrial Index eased 0.7 points to 1,779.22. Brokers said the local market would be trapped in a consolidation phase to digest recent rallies. JAKARTA PRICES closed firmer in moderate trade, with cross trading dominating market volume. ''The market was neither nervous nor excited, it was just trading on late reaction to company results,'' a dealer with a foreign house said. The official index rose 1.03 points to 313.22. The Tokyo market was closed yesterday. The Chinese share prices are provided by Telerate. All other prices are provided by Reuter.