Profit-takers send Bangkok down 2.92pc

ASIAN markets closed mostly lower - led by Bangkok's 2.92 per cent plunge - in reaction to the overnight fall on Wall Street after another increase in US short-term interest rates.

Brokers said Bangkok prices were also sharply lower after investors took profits after Monday's 2.35 per cent gain.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 fell 85.02 points or 0.42 per cent to 20,192.34.

Sydney prices closed lower following the overnight slump on Wall Street, with the All-Ordinaries index falling 34.5 points to 2,061.4.

Singapore and Kuala Lumpur stocks were also down following the surprise increase in US rates.

But in Manila prices closed higher for the fifth straight day after a flurry of late buying erased earlier losses.

BANGKOK THE increase in US short-term interest rates pushed the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index down 38.31 points or 2.92 per cent to close at 1,274.02.

Trading remained light, although heavier than in recent weeks, with 91.8 million shares worth 8.2 billion baht changing hands.

Declines buried advances 256 to 39, with 46 issues closing unchanged.

The index was down across the board with the banking, finance and property sectors hardest hit.

Profit-taking from Monday's 30.17-point gain and Friday's 46.9-point increase also contributed to the plunge.

BOMBAY PRICES ended lower despite Reliance Industries reporting better-than-expected results as the Bombay exchange's account period was coming to a close tomorrow.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) 30-share index closed at a provisional 3,841.89, down 25.02 points. The 100-share national index closed at a provisional 1,862.99, down 15.26.

The BSE is closed today for a Hindu festival and reopens tomorrow.

''Who will take delivery, there's no money,'' said the broker in a reference to the banning of the badla system of trading which had deprived the market of finances.

Badla, which was banned by the Securities and Exchange Board of India saying it led to excessive speculation, was a system which allowed brokers to carry forward their positions to the next account period on payment of interest.

''In the absence of badla, there is no other means of finance,'' said Kisan Choksey who heads his own broking firm.

JAKARTA PRICES closed broadly down following nervous selling on the US interest rate rise, mixed interpretation of its impact and worries over riots in the city of Medan.

One foreign dealer said the weak opening was caused by fear of possible foreign selling on the interest rise.

Riots in Medan continued into the sixth consecutive day.

KUALA LUMPUR PRICES closed broadly lower after taking the cue from an overnight plunge on Wall Street.

The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange composite index dipped 14.22 points or 1.35 per cent to 1,036.04.

Turnover shrank to 313.4 million shares valued at M$1.4 billion from 360.4 million shares worth $1.7 billion previously.

Falls overwhelmed rises 316 to 87, with 50 counters unchanged and 71 others untraded.

''There was some speculative buying through the day but these were cleared by profit-taking in late trading,'' said a broker. 8,12,13 MANILA PRICES edged up marginally as selected buying in telephone stocks and major second-liners extended the rally to a fifth straight day.

Brokers said rosy corporate earnings in the first quarter, led by San Miguel Corp's 40 per cent rise in profit, would negate any effect a rise in US interest rates would have on the market.

The Philippine Stock Exchange composite index added 6.76 points or 0.24 per cent to 2,825.93. The index has already gained 191.33 points or 7.26 per cent over the last five trading days.

Jonas Ferrer, research manager for CityTrust Investment Bank, said strong buying boosted Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co stocks by five pesos despite losing on Wall Street overnight.

SEOUL STOCKS closed lower in very thin trade after brief early gains were overwhelmed by a round of profit-taking in blue chips.

The composite index lost 6.3 points to 885.85, after touching a day high of 897.31. Losers outpaced gainers by 583 to 183.

''There was a strong resistance as the index approached the 900-level. The market needs further rest after recent advances,'' said Ha Sung-won of Ssangyong Securities.

Brokers said most low-priced shares also lost their momentum, despite continued buying interest in some asset play counters.

Volume was very thin with only 24.60 million shares changing hands, compared with the recent norm of 35 million.

SINGAPORE PRICES finished lower with sentiment dampened by overnight falls in the US stock and bonds market.

Most of the blue chips that fell were among those which had risen sharply over the last week or so, brokers said.

A rise in the Federal funds rate seemed to have been accepted fairly well, brokers said.

''It is like going to the dentist. After a while you won't feel the pain that much,'' said a UK firm's research director.

The 30-share Straits Times Industrials index fell 18.07 points to 2,221, off the intra-day low of 2,208.25.

Volume was 193.31 million shares.

SYDNEY PRICES closed sharply lower, driven down by weaker bonds and futures and bearish overseas markets.

The All Ordinaries index lost more than 20 points in the first 10 minutes of trade before ending 34.5 points down at 2,061.4, only 3.7 points off its low for the day.

Brokers said the sell-off was sparked by overnight news the US Federal Reserve had raised short-term interest rates.

''Stocks across the board were belted from the opening of trade and never recovered,'' one broker said.

The All Industrials index closed 46.9 points down at 3,139.4 and the All Resources fell 25.4 to 1,242.5.

National turnover saw 191.83 million shares worth A$444.59 million change hands. Falls led rises by around five to one.

TAIPEI STOCKS closed slightly lower in active trade on profit-taking after Monday's rally and in response to Wall Street's overnight loss.

The index was down 14.38 points or 0.25 per cent at 5,675.75 in turnover of NT$58.9 billion.

''Sentiment remains modestly bullish despite profit-taking,'' said Tu Jin-lung of Grand Cathay.

''Profit-taking near the 5,700 to 5,800-level is expected. But recent looser liquidity should help the index move up further,'' said Benjamin Chen at Baring Securities.

Mr Chen said industrials which have improved profits would be the main support for the index's further rises.

TOKYO STOCKS closed weaker but off earlier lows due to index-linked buying in the late afternoon.

Trade was quiet all day as falls in New York stocks overnight after an interest rate rise forced investors to the sidelines, brokers said.

Despite the fall, they still have a bullish outlook.

''The Nikkei average's bottom seems very solid at the 20,000-level as the fall was relatively small despite negative factors,'' one broker at a Big Four brokerage said.

The Nikkei 225 was down 85.02 points or 0.42 per cent to 20,192.34.

The broader TOPIX index ended down 6.23 points or 0.38 per cent at 1,637.01. The Nikkei 300 index closed down 1.36 at 299.55.

An estimated 320 million shares were traded, down from 387 million on Monday.

Shares continued to fluctuate narrowly after initial selling following Wall Street falls receded in the morning, brokers said. WELLINGTON PRICES finished sharply lower in line with falls in world equity markets which reflected fright at a further tightening of policy by the Federal Reserve.

The 40 Capital Index closed down 37.41 at 2,104.7 after it had opened down 37.26 points. Volume was a moderate NZ$45 million.

''Second-liners were heavily hit,'' Peter Halligan at Buttle Wilson said. The NZSE smaller companies capital index closed down 82.34 at 4,707.04.