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Asian Markets Update: Stocks Mostly Lower, but Sony's Rebound Continues

Pre-election jitters sink Taiwan stocks again.

TOKYO -- After the biotech selloff that killed the


composite on Tuesday, Asian investors today looked like they desperately needed an aspirin, or something a little stronger.

But coming to the rescue for what started out looking like a truly dismal day were late breaking reports about a possible link between


(EBAY) - Get Report




, which helped erase losses in the tech sector, especially in Japan.

The key

Nikkei 225

index shed 48.09 points to 19,141.84, while the


index, which includes all shares listed on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange's

first section, rose 23.82, or 1.5%, to 1581.97. The


small-cap index slipped 3.42, or 3.2%, to 102.62, while the Nikkei


market fell 39.97, or 1.8%, to 2175.91.

Investors were cautious when they saw the Nikkei 225 slip below a key psychological support of 19,000 around midday, but a further selloff is unlikely, as large investors such as pension funds are reportedly done selling shares to lock in profits before the March 31 fiscal year-end.

Following a rebound Tuesday,


(SNE) - Get Report

rose 1360 yen, or 5.4%, to 26.750,

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone


was up 40,000, or 2.9%, to 1.4 million, while its mobile phone arm


climbed 360,000, or 9.3%, to 4.25 million.


saw some pension fund buying late in the day. Shares closed up 5000, or 5.6%, to 94,200.

Hikari Tsushin

, battered by endless and consistently denied rumors of insider trading and other offenses, jumped 5000, or 6.0%, to 88,500 after the firm announced plans to meet analysts later today.



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on the


board soared 1.4 million, or 5.6%, to 26.4 million.

Biotech shares got pummeled, but far less than their counterparts in the U.S.

Takara Shuzo

fell 95, or 3.9%, to 2350 and

Kyowa Hakko Kogyo

was down 80, or 6.9%, to 1085.


(TM) - Get Report

is mulling setting up its own brokerage house this year, the

Nihon Keizai Shimbun

reported. Shares slipped 40 to 4700.

Currency dealers were on the edge of their seats today as the greenback dropped below 105.00 yen midday, on small dollar sales from trust banks. Traders are wary of another

Bank of Japan

intervention to support the dollar: A strong yen hurts the profits of exporters as their goods become more expensive in overseas markets.

"Ahead of fiscal year-end the Japanese policy makers do not want any negative policy shocks and thus one can expect them to step up their intervention campaign should the need arise," said Divyang Shah, global strategist at


Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index fell 181.96, or 1.1%, to 16,747.20.

Pacific Century Cyberworks

closed up HK$0.20 at 20.70 after announcing it would buy a stake in Data Access India, an Indian Internet service provider. Index heavyweight

Hutchison Whampoa


slipped 4.80, or 3.2%, to 135.50, even though

Deutsche Bank

said it had rated Hutchison a buy, with a 12-month price target of 160.00.

China Telecom

(CHL) - Get Report

shed 1.75, or 2.6%, to 66.00.

Jitters ahead of Saturday's presidential elections led Taiwan's


index down 195.55, or 2.2%, to 8640.03. Korea's


index closed down 9.21, or 1.1%, to 837.53.