A SHARP jump in the price of leading stock New Zealand Telecom boosted the Wellington blue chip index to its highest close since May 1990. Interest rates, which have now fallen half a percentage point since Thursday's budget to 20-year lows, were also a spur for equities. The NZSE-40 Capital Index rose 16.46 to 1,715.52. Volume was NZ$38.2 million, high for a Monday, considering the US holiday weekend. ''There is more capacity for the market overall to react in a positive manner to these falls in the wholesale interest rate market because they are very material,'' said Ord Minnett equities director John Rattray. SYDNEY THE Australian share market closed slightly lower, with gold the only feature in otherwise subdued trade. Gold stocks were firmer, but failed to inspire the broader market and most key stocks fell. The All Ordinaries Index closed three points down at 1,765.9 after opening 4.6 points down. Brokers said strong foreign and local interest in gold stocks pushed the gold marker 50.2 points up to 2,154.2. MANILA SHARE prices slipped on profit-taking on selected blue chips but analysts said the market was poised for another rally. ''I see a continuation of a rally. The market has pulled out of the doldrums we saw in June. The next one or two weeks will be very active as we experience a pull-out from the lows,'' said Willie Ocier, general manager of Eastern Securities Corp. ''This market buys on dips,'' said Harry Liu, president of Summit Securities. The Manila Stock Exchange Composite Index dipped 4.46 points to 1,579.51 while the Makati index was down 8.95 points at 1,612.97. TOKYO STOCKS ended mixed in thin trade. Turnover was estimated at a meagre 150 million shares, the lowest since January 18. Investors were reluctant to take positions until after the Group of Seven summit this week and general elections on July 18, brokers said. ''Practically nothing is going on as the nation's politics remain in a vacuum and there's nothing else to look at,'' said one Japanese broker. ''Hopes for a discount rate cut waned today after [Bank of Japan Governor] Mieno didn't say much.'' The 225-share Nikkei Average was up 1.6 points to 19,623.06. The broader first section TOPIX index, however, fell 0.61 points to 1,585.42. SEOUL THE stock market closed higher in a day of very thin trade with buying focused on financial shares and large manufacturing firms, brokers said. They expected the market to gain further momentum today. ''The index was buoyant but the market, without improved trading volume, is still in consolidation,'' Choi Bum of Seoul Securities said. The Composite Stock Index added 4.48 points to 752.78. TAIPEI STOCKS reversed early gains to finish slightly lower on late profit-taking as investor confidence remained weak, brokers said. The Weighted Index, which rose more than 50 points at one stage, closed 9.91 down at 3,907.33. Turnover was a very slow NT$11.92 billion. ''The market's downward trend is very strong and it will be very hard to reverse it,'' said Albert Lin of Golden Securities. News in late trade that consumer price inflation rose to 4.32 per cent in June from 2.07 per cent in May was negative for the market, brokers said. SINGAPORE SHARES closed higher due to selective buying interest in Malaysian shares traded over the counter but institutional funds were sidelined, brokers said. ''Overall there isn't really that much incentive at the moment,'' said T.K. Yap, head of sales at Peregrine Securities. He said technicals looked firm and the market should sustain its uptrend in the near term. The 30-share Straits Times Industrial Index rose 7.69 points to 1,825.92. KUALA LUMPUR PRICES retreated further from early highs in the afternoon to close mixed to easier on profit-taking activity, brokers said. They said investor concern about the market's direction contributed to the market volatility. ''Trading is still cautious and players are ready to make quick profits,'' a dealer said. The KLSE Composite Index closed down 2.22 points at 732.51 after earlier touching a high of 737.09. BANGKOK THE Thai index gave up its gains on the day to close lower as small investors took profits in late afternoon, brokers said. The SET Index finished 0.13 point lower at 887.79 on active turnover of 7.48 billion baht. The indicator hit its day's high of 897 during the morning. ''It was the small, speculative stocks that spearheaded the index,'' said broker Chusak Tanglertsampan of Ekachart Finance and Securities. ''I don't think we're going to see the index break 900 again soon,'' said an analyst at Adkinson Securities. JAKARTA STOCKS closed weaker in lacklustre trade across the board, brokers said. ''There was not much room for downside risk but a lack of fresh factors put the market in a lacklustre mood,'' a dealer with a foreign brokerage said. The official index closed 1.14 points lower at 359.58. The Chinese share prices are provided by Telerate. All other prices are provided by Reuter.