NZ surges on Fletcher results

EUPHORIA over a turnaround in forester Fletcher Challenge's annual profit catapulted the New Zealand market to its highest close in more than 31/2 years.

''The market can only be described as buoyant,'' said Humphrey Sherratt at brokerage Jordan Sandman Were.

''It was extremely bullish,'' Paul Davenport at brokerage Doyle Paterson Brown said of the market overall.

Fletcher's annual profit of NZ$351.8 million, turning around a loss of $158 million the previous year, unleashed the biggest one-day market-wide rally since February 7, 1991.

Brokers said the market's rally could easily gallop on through the 2,000 level on the NZSE 40 capital index, a level not seen since December 1989. The index closed up 63.80 points at 1,957.24. SINGAPORE THE 30-share Straits Times Industrial index ended at 1,951.4, a closing record for the fourth trading day.

The index, which soared 23.06 points, or 1.2 per cent, from the previous closing high of 1,928.34 on Tuesday, was just off the all-time high of 1,952.25, reached in late trading.

''There will still be buying going on,'' James See of Kim Eng Securities said, adding that investors were likely to shift their focus from blue chips to cheaper stocks. KUALA LUMPUR FURTHER institutional buying of blue chips pushed the Kuala Lumpur StockExchange composite index up 6.11 points to close at a new high of 791.02.

Brokers said institutional funds continued to mop up quality stocks led by Tanjong and Telekom Malaysia.

Turnover was 312.5 million shares against 302.6 million on Tuesday. Gainers led losers by 221 to 122.

Analysts said the market would stay firm on the back of further demand for blue-chips. SYDNEY SHARES closed up but off their morning highs, helped by strong overseas buying support following Tuesday's federal Budget.

The market surprised brokers when it opened slightly higher, shrugging off a jump in taxes on alcohol, tobacco and fuel in the budget.

''Most people thought it would ease after its recent gains but the Budget was seen as a positive,'' said a broker.

The All Ordinaries index closed up 9.6 points at 1,894.7. MANILA PRICES fell broadly in a much-awaited correction as leading stocks succumbed to profit-taking.

''The market has become too much over-bought. There was room for profit-taking,'' said Juan Barrero of Citisecurities Inc.

Joseph Roxas of R Coyiuto Securities said the market was still liquid and the sudden rise in interest rates was not likely to draw funds away from it.

The Manila exchange index closed 7.5 points lower at 1,767.6 while Makati dropped 7.71 points to 1,812.21. TAIPEI STOCKS reversed early gains to end lower on profit-taking but brokers remain optimistic about the near-term outlook, saying political factors and economic fundamentals are fairly positive.

The weighted index, which rose some 48 points in early trade, closed 17.41 points down at 4,104.75. Turnover rose to a moderate NT$18.67 billion from $12.76 billion on Tuesday.

Brokers said stocks jumped at the opening as President Lee Teng-hui was widely expected to win another term as chairman of the ruling Nationalist Party at the party congress. But heavy profit-taking emerged in late trade. TOKYO STOCKS ended modestly lower in light, directionless trade.

Investors shunned fresh positions on uncertainty in the yen and ahead of tomorrow's special economic ministers' meeting.

However, speculation of easier credit underpinned prices.

The 225-share Nikkei average was down 68.8 points or 0.33 per cent to 20,773.18, with about 280 million shares traded. SEOUL A RUSH of bargain-hunting, optimism the Government will come up with market-boosting measures and an inflow of funds combined to send stocks up 24.24 points to end at 713.18.

''Money is flowing into stocks as investors believe there are few alternatives,'' said H.K. Kang of Schroder Securities.

''This is a technical rebound after sharp declines. Bargain-hunters are showing very healthy interest,'' Kim Ki-hong of Coryo Securities said. BANGKOK STOCKS regained almost all the ground they had lost in the past two days on active trade, pursued almost exclusively by big local investors.

The SET Index was up 12.39 at 958.01 at the close, with just over seven billion baht worth of shares changing hands.

Gains led losses 185 to 69, with 80 stocks unchanged.

''There's very little foreign interest, they're not really playing the market and local institutions are just picking up stocks selectively,'' said a broker at Phatra Thanakit. JAKARTA PRICES closed mixed in moderate afternoon trading.

''Some people were on a profit-taking spree, but others were still interested to buy,'' one dealer said.

The Jardine Fleming index closed at 78.05, up from 77.74.

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