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Asian stocks close higher


HONG KONG, Dec 29 (AFP): Asian stocks closed higher Thursday, supported by a steadier Wall Street performance following strong US consumer confidence data and led once again by Tokyo, which continued to forge ahead to fresh five-year highs, dealers said.
They said the latest US data reassured investors anxious about a possible slowdown in the world's biggest economy and also bolstered the dollar, thereby helping the region's exporters.
The fact the markets are putting in such a strong performance during the holiday season bodes well for 2006, when most investors are banking on further if more modest gains.
MUMBAI: Indian share prices rose 0.71 per cent, putting in another strong performance on the back of sustained foreign fund buying in leading benchmark index companies, dealers said.
The Mumbai stock exchange's 30-share Sensex was up 65.74 points at 9,323.25 as gains led declines 1,530 to 935.
TOKYO: Japanese share prices extended their winning streak, closing above 16,300 points for the first time in over five years on optimism that an economic recovery is gaining traction, dealers said.
They said overnight gains on Wall Street and a softer yen had added to upbeat market sentiment that has seen stocks gain almost 43 per cent this year.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index rose 149.59 points or 0.92 per cent to 16,344.20, off an earlier high of 16,445.56 but still the strongest finish since September 20, 2000.
SEOUL: South Korean share prices closed 0.82 per cent higher in very heavy trade for another record finish on year-end window dressing by institutional investors, dealers said.
The KOSPI index closed up 11.21 points at 1,379.37, off a high of 1,383.14 and above a low of 1,370.38. Volume was 440 million shares worth 5.3 trillion won ($5.24 billion). Rises outnumbered falls by 449 to 293.
HONG KONG: Hong Kong share prices closed 0.37 per cent lower, reversing modest early gains as investors turned cautious in late trade ahead of the expiry of December futures contracts, dealers said.
The key Hang Seng Index closed down 55.95 points at 15,045.59, off a low of 15,028.28 and high of 15,151.32. Turnover was 17.36 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$2.23 billion).
TAIPEI: Taiwan share prices closed 0.78 per cent higher in heavy trade, with year-end portfolio adjustments and rotational interest providing support, dealers said.
The weighted index rose 51.13 points to 6,575.53, its highest level since April 27, 2004 when it stood at 6,646.80. Turnover was 152.47 billion Taiwan dollars ($4.62 billion). Risers led decliners 656 to 371, with 187 stocks unchanged.
SHANGHAI: Chinese share prices closed 1.11 per cent higher in heavy trade on continued portfolio window-dressing by institutional investors, with oil refiners and energy firms the main gainers, dealers said.
The Shanghai A-share Index added 13.54 points to 1,230.34 on turnover of 10.62 billion yuan ($1.31 billion) while the Shenzhen A-share Index was up 3.60 points or 1.24 per cent at 293.36 on turnover of 6.54 billion yuan.
SINGAPORE: Singapore share prices closed 0.32 per cent higher as investors snapped up select blue chips on hopes of a year-end rally, dealers said.
The Straits Times index added 7.49 points to 2,345.38 on volume of 621 million shares worth 484 million Singapore dollars ($292 million).