Sydney turned on by Seven's debut

THE Australian market soared to a fresh post-1987 crash high after Channel Seven's debut boosted sentiment.

''The market opened strongly on Wall Street, and Channel Seven buoyed everyone's enthusiasm,'' said a CS First Boston broker.

Blue chips were firm, but gold stocks fell after bullion prices eased offshore.

The All Ordinaries Index closed up 12.3 points to 1,873.3 after opening 4.2 points higher.

''Seven was a strong result. It's not on the All Ords index yet but created a lot of interest generally,'' said one broker.

Turnover was 374.9 million shares worth A$454.6 million.

Brokers said July jobs data showing Australia's unemployment rate down to an adjusted 10.7 per cent from 11.1 per cent in June also provided support.

The media sector was strong overall on the back of Seven with small television stocks benefiting the most. TAIPEI BUYING just before the close pushed the market up to finish at its intra-day high as sentiment remained positive ahead of the ruling Nationalist Party's congress next week.

The Weighted Index wavered narrowly all session before ending 25.71 points up at 4,140.75.

Turnover was a moderate NT$17 billion, lower than Wednesday's $26.62 billion.

Profit-taking was seen but the market was supported by bargain-hunters who believed the Government would take a positive attitude towards the market before the congress, brokers said.

Buying focused on financials, especially stocks perceived as related to the Government or the Nationalists.

Brokers said investors had now absorbed the breakaway of a splinter party from the Nationalists and believed the congress was unlikely to provide more serious political instability.

''This optimism will last at least until the congress starts, but a correction may then occur if the congress doesn't go smoothly,'' said Ketty Tu of Typhone Securities.

Brokers expected the index to move in a 100-point range centred at 4,100 in the near term. TOKYO STOCKS ended steady in the most active trading since June 11.

Foreign buying of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) shares on bullishness over a telecommunications infrastructure project helped bolster sentiment. However, profit-taking limited gains.

''Active buying by foreigners offset worries from the higher yen. Many investors think a higher yen will press the Government to cut interest rates,'' said Taketoshi Hashizume, general manager of stock trading at Yamaichi Securities.

The 225-share Nikkei Average was up 32.71 points or 0.16 per cent at 20,765.28, with about 500 million shares traded.

The broader first section TOPIX index was up 5.95 points or 0.35 per cent to 1,686.18, hitting its year's high.

The market opened firmer with the Nikkei striking its day's high with a more than 200-point jump in the first 16 minutes of trade before profit-taking erased gains.

The Nikkei fell to its day's low in early afternoon on profit-taking linked to stock index futures and options contracts settlement on Friday.

Sentiment was also supported by hopes of an official discount rate cut and by greater buying by foreign investors, brokers said.

Aggressive buying by foreigners, particularly in NTT shares, in part reflected expectations of a shift in funds from the bond market to stocks, and helped boost confidence of domestic investors, brokers said.

''NTT may soon reach the one million level, which will have a great impact on the stock market,'' Hashizume at Yamaichi Securities said.

Turnover was about 500 million shares compared with 360 million on Wednesday.

Advancing issues led decliners by about two to one, with 665 higher, 314 lower and 183 unchanged. MANILA PRICES closed higher as local investors bought selected blue-chip issues after taking profits on newly listed J.G. Summit.

''A lot of people were able to go out of J.G. at a profit and [gains] went to a lot of selected issues,'' said Joseph Roxas of R Coyiuto Securities.

Manila ended at 1,751.68 points, 4.01 up from Wednesday's 1,747.67. Makati rose 9.98 points to 1,799.44.

''There's a good chance the market will test 1,800 next week, come back down again, then hold at 1,750,'' said Lorenzo Roxas, vice-president at Peregrine Securities.

Combined turnover rose to 6.89 billion shares from Wednesday's 4.97 billion while value fell to 746.03 million pesos from 804.25 million. WELLINGTON SHARES closed firmer, thanks to strength on overseas markets and to a partial bounce in Telecom.

While the market turnover of NZ$54 million appeared strong, about two-thirds of that was done off-market.

The NZSE-40 Capital Index ended 5.41 points up at 1,888.82, but off its 1,899.55 peak for the day. SEOUL STOCKS closed higher for the third consecutive day on the back of healthy foreign interest and some domestic institutional buying.

''Profit-taking in reaction to recent double-digit gains pushed the market into a negative territory but foreign buying centred on KEPCO bucked the trend,'' Park Sang-joon of Hanshin Securities said.

''I expect no further drastic falls but the market is likely to languish in a period of consolidation for the rest of this month,'' Choi Bum of Seoul Securities said.

The Composite Stock Index added 2.29 points to 725.94. KUALA LUMPUR PRICES closed higher with activity focusing on selected stocks, including telecommunication issue Technology Resources which surged on a share placement.

Analysts are re-rating the stock in view of the rosy prospects for the telecommunication industry. ''There's also talk of a China deal,'' said a broker.

But falls in giants Tenaga Nasional and Telekom Malaysia dragged the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index down 4.26 points to close at 776.16.

Turnover was 230 million shares against 233 million on Wednesday. Gainers led losers by 238 to 119. SINGAPORE PRICES closed marginally boosted higher by last-minute buying on good interim results by Development Bank of Singapore.

The 30-share Straits Times Industrial index rose 1.7 points to 1,902.8.

Brokers said reports of the Central Provident Fund Board rescinding an earlier guideline which contained a loophole favourable for share investment gains, dampened trade slightly. JAKARTA BULLISH sentiment lingered on the exchange helping to push mostshares to close higher.

''Most prices soared at the first session, although some of them fell slightly in the second. Trading was very active,'' a broker with a joint venture securities house said.

The Jardine Fleming index closed at 77.46 compared with Wednesday's 76.95.

The Bangkok stock exchange was closed yesterday for a holiday to mark the Queen's birthday.

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