Tokyo, Seoul shares rise to new highs; other markets close for Christmas holidays
HONG KONG – Tokyo and Seoul shares rose to new highs Monday, but many Asian markets remained closed for the Christmas holidays. Canadian, U.S. and most European markets also were closed.Japan’s Nikkei 225 index surged to its highest level in more than five years as investors bought into technology issues, retailers and textiles. The Nikkei rose 166.30 points, or 1 percent, to finish at 16,107.67 – its highest close since October 2000.Gainers included internet service providers Softbank Corp., Yahoo Japan Corp., textile company Toray Industries Inc. and Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd., which owns the 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan and the United States. Seven & I would become Japan’s largest retailer as part of a $1.13 billion deal for Millennium Retailing Inc.Before Monday’s session, the Nikkei has climbed more than 31 percent this year on renewed optimism for the country’s economic recovery. But the Nikkei is still far below its all-time closing high of 38,915.87 set Dec. 29, 1989. The plunge that followed in the early 1990s contributed to the economy’s nearly 15-year slump.In Seoul, South Korean shares also rose to a new record high on gains by technology and telecom issues. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, added 8.04 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,367.57.In currency dealings, the dollar strengthened against the Japanese yen. It bought 116.42 yen in late Tokyo trading, up 0.10 yen from late Friday in New York.The euro fell to $1.1859 from $1.1862 late Friday in New York.Elsewhere:BANGKOK: Thai shares ended slightly higher in razor-thin trade as gains in select blue chip stocks outweighed profit taking in speculative second-liners that have risen sharply in recent sessions, analysts said. The Stock Exchange of Thailand index closed up 2.42 points, at 701.37, breaking the 700-point psychological resistance after having traded between 698.72 and 702.17.BOMBAY: Indian shares ended sharply lower on profit-taking in blue chips like Bharti Televentures and ICICI Bank ahead of the expiry of December futures contracts Thursday, dealers said. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock Sensitive Index, or Sensex, fell 171.02 points, or 1.9 percent, to 9085.89.SHANGHAI: Chinese shares climbed as mutual funds bought into blue chips for year-end window dressing. The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 11.95 points, or 1.0 percent, to 1,156.82.TAIPEI: Taiwan’s shares advanced, led by electronics shares on hopes of strong first-quarter demand in the technology sector. The Weighted Price Index gained 22.14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,534.77.The stock markets in Hong Kong, Australia, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, Toronto and New Zealand remained closed for the Christmas holidays.