Most Asian markets rise, especially Indonesia, Singapore

Most Asian markets rose on Wednesday, with Indonesian and Singaporean shares hitting records, while Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Philippine stocks climbed to multiyear highs. The region's biggest bourse in Japan was closed for the "Golden Week" holidays and was to resume trading on Monday. Markets in China were also closed for a national holiday.

Hong Kong shares rose to their highest level in more than 5 1/2 years on buying in banking giant HSBC, but traders said there is limited upside for the benchmark index. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index rose 158.94 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,026.98, topping 17,000 for the first time since September 2000.

HSBC rose 1 percent to HK$137.3. China Mobile ( Hong Kong ) Ltd., the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers and the second largest blue-chip by market capitalization, rose 0.7 percent to HK$44.75. Singapore shares rose to a record closing high, led by the country's three banking groups, as overall market sentiment remained upbeat following a rebound on Wall Street overnight.

The Straits Times Index rose 26.85 points, or 1.0 percent to 2,659.65. Advancers led decliners 400 to 197. Trading volume rose to 1.56 billion shares from Tuesday's 1.44 billion. DBS Group Holdings advanced 3.3 percent to 18.90 Singapore dollars and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. added 3.7 percent to S$7.05. United Overseas Bank rose 0.6 percent to S$16.70 despite posting slightly lower-than-expected first-quarter net profit.

Indonesian shares hit a record high, with the main index being driven by telecommunications blue chips and Bank Mandiri, the nation's largest lender by assets. The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index ended up 23.178 points, or 1.6 percent, at 1,499.071, beating the previous high set April 26. Stocks rose on hopes that the central bank would cut its benchmark interest rate, dealers said. Gains across Asian markets also boosted the index, they said.

Elsewhere:

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian shares ended lower but hovered around the psychological 950-point level on profit-taking across a broad range of sectors. The weighted Composite Index of 100 blue chip stocks finished down 0.1 percent, or 1.02 points, at 950.23, off an intraday low of 948.65.

MANILA: Philippine shares ended higher, with the benchmark index setting a nearly seven-year closing high on a bullish outlook for the country's economy and corporate earnings. The benchmark 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index rose 35.18 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2340.82, its best finish since Aug. 5, 1999 , when it ended at 2348.24.

SEOUL : South Korea 's main stock index barely rose as banks gained on strong earnings and export companies declined over concerns about the appreciating Korean won. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, rose 0.27 points, or 0.02 percent, to close at 1,435.17.

SYDNEY : Australian stocks rebounded from an early dip when the central bank boosted the official cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 5.75 percent. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 of a point higher to 5,273.5 after falling to 5,254.6 following the Reserve Bank decision while the All Ordinaries index climbed 2.5 points to 5,224.9.

TAIPEI : Taiwan shares rose to a new five-and-a-half-year high on the back of increases on Wall Street and buying of non-technology stocks. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, or Taiex, rose 42.77 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,242.37. Wednesday's closing level was the highest since Sept. 13, 2000 , when it finished at 7,391.66.

WELLINGTON : New Zealand stocks were flat in light trading Wednesday with analysts saying the market traded in a very narrow range throughout the session. The benchmark NZSX-50 index ended up 3.923 points, or 0.1 percent, at 3,766.66, reports the AP.

N.U.