TAIWAN stocks extended early gains to end sharply higher and turnover expanded on hopes that a group of legislators would succeed in pushing a proposal to cut the stock transaction tax through parliament. The weighted index closed 80.32 points or 2.1 per cent up at its intra-day high of 3,894.94. Turnover rose to a moderate NT$18.99 billion from Wednesday's thin $10.9 billion. Parliament's finance committee has urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to take steps to boost the market, including the tax cut. Brokers said a tax cut appeared increasingly likely, and some official action to help the market seemed certain. ''The stock tax will likely be cut to half of its current 0.3 per cent level, or if not they may suspend the tax for a year,'' said Tu Jin-lung of Grand Cathay Securities. Several brokers said sentiment was boosted by buying orders from the Hualon group, whose head Oung Ta-ming is one of the legislators pressing for the tax cut. WELLINGTON A SHARP bout of overseas buying saw New Zealand's share market bound further ahead in active trade, closing up near 31/2-year highs reached in late August. On Tuesday the government announced sharply lower deficit forecasts and plans to repay foreign debt with the proceeds, which triggered heavy overseas buying in Telecom in particular. Brokers said one US broker bought Telecom heavily overnight on Wall Street and the rest of the leading shares rode Telecom's coat-tails higher through the day. Telecom jumped 11 cents to $4.24, helping drag the NZSE-40 capital index up 36.42 points to 2,018.95 at the close. ''We've seen international interest on the back of those government announcements,'' broker Campbell Johnstone at brokerage Hendry Hay McIntosh said. Brokers said Telecom could rise further still in coming days. KUALA LUMPUR PRICES closed higher with rubber stocks stealing the limelight, but the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange composite index came off its record high of 878.62 points set in early afternoon trade. The index closed up 8.57 points at 874.34. ''Rubber stocks were in demand and were easily pushed up due to their limited number of shares available in the market,'' one broker said. Trading slowed down as players became cautious after the feverish condition in recent days. Turnover fell to 657.2 million shares from 940.3 million on Wednesday. Genting surged to a high of M$28.50 before closing at $27, up $2 from Wednesday. The share was driven by a report that the company had bought two large vessels to be converted into floating casinos. SYDNEY AFTER a slow start to the day, the Australian share market recovered to close at a post-crash high for the third consecutive day. ''The market has been quite volatile and is continuing its uptrend,'' a broker said. The All Ordinaries Index ended 3.7 points higher at 2,022.5, off its day's high of 2,031.8. The market had opened at 2,012.8. Another broker, Bill Chatterton from Morgan Stockbroking, said the market was buoyed by a positive outlook and offshore buying. ''The market has been waiting to break 2,000 for six years and that has generated some optimism,'' Mr Chatterton said. The market pushed through this psychological level on Wednesday for the first time since the 1987 stock market crash. Total turnover was an impressive 231.5 million shares worth A$612.8 million, with rises beating falls five to three. The All Industrials Index ended 1.2 points down at 3,153 while the All Resources gained 7.8 to 1,157.7. BHP ended steady at $17.10 on a turnover of 2.5 million shares. Lend Lease, Pacific Dunlop and GIO all went ex-dividend. Pacific Dunlop topped industrial turnover with 7.48 million shares traded. MANILA SHARES were up with the composite index at the Manila Stock Exchange closing 0.63 per cent or 12.35 points higher at 1,961.04 and the composite at the Makati exchange up 0.74 per cent to 2,017.52 points. An analyst with the Manila exchange said the first rise this week was due to bargain-hunting and the improvement of Philippine Long Distance and Telephone (PLDT) in New York which pulled most of the commercial-industrial sector up. But a broker for Peregrine Securities, citing the strong performance of other blue chips, said the rise could be the sign of the beginning of a sustained recovery for the market. TOKYO THERE were significant dips in the 225-share Nikkei average on market speculation new stock index futures will be announced very soon. Large shares that led the market rise on Wednesday failed to do so yesterday. ''Investors speculate the announcement of the new futures may be as soon as Friday, after the settlement of [October] options,'' said Nikko Securities' chief dealer. ''Directed selling was seen in shares in the current Nikkei-225 average.'' The 225-share Nikkei average was down 234.62 points or 1.14 per cent to 20,265.63, with about 300 million shares traded. The broader first section TOPIX index ended down 6.99 points or 0.42 per cent to 1,646.79. Brokers noted the drop in the Nikkei was larger than that in the TOPIX. The new stock index futures contract is expected to replace the present Nikkei futures. Brokers noted a flow of US and European funds shifting into Hong Kong. One trader said he did not know whether the shift was due to heightened expectations in the Asian market or if it were simply a temporary move. SEOUL STOCKS managed to remain in positive territory after a day of dull narrow-range trading in moderate volumes. ''It seemed for a while as if the index would fall into the negative, but continuous and steady buying among individuals and institutions across the board kept the index positive,'' said Ko Kyung-bae at Hyundai Securities. ''Despite the fluctuation, the market is still stable as investors remain confident,'' another broker said. The composite stock index inched 0.92 points higher to close at 717.82. Brokers said the market was expected to continue to trade around the 720-level in the next few days, with steep rises or falls unlikely. SINGAPORE THE blue chip Straits Times industrials index fell 1.71 points to 2,037.41 points as investors took profit after several sessions of gains. The broader-based SES All-Singapore index rose 0.95 to 533.75. Losers outpaced gainers 159 to 145 while 140 counters were unchanged. Turnover fell to 485.3 million shares valued at S$898.1 million from 661.95 million issues worth $1.1 billion. Dealers said Singapore issues fell on profit-taking while Malaysian over-the counter-stocks were easier on rumours that a top political figure was ill. JAKARTA PRICES closed weaker led by a dip in Barito Pacific and Indocement local in moderate trading. ''Foreigners were shifting to Thailand on its sharp rebound, while Indonesia was dampened by further correction in Barito,'' a brokerage dealer said. The official index ended 2.93 points lower to 436.49. The Chinese share prices are provided by Telerate. All other prices are provided by Reuter.