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Asian Markets Open Higher

January 15, 1998

HONG KONG (AP) _ Building on two days of strong gains, stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Seoul opened higher Thursday, as U.S. and financial officials continued to crisscross the financially troubled Asian region to shore up confidence.

Asian investors, heartened by new reform commitments from Indonesian President Suharto, had pushed stock prices higher for a second straight on Wednesday.

The rally continued early Thursday in some Asian markets, with the main stock barometers in Taiwan, Singapore and Seoul opening higher.

Dealers in Singapore, where the main index was up 2.9 percent in early trading, said the strengthening of regional currencies has lured Asian, American and British investors back into the market.

Seoul’s main index opened 2.3 higher Thursday, also on continued buying from foreigners and local small investors. The main index on Taiwan’s stock market was up 0.13 percent.

Hong Kong bucked the trend, as stocks fell back in early trading despite a dramatic 5.8-percent surge on Wednesday. The blue-chip Hang Seng Index fell 3.2 percent to 8,927.59 points, once again dipping below the 9,000-point barrier.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange and other financial markets in Japan were closed Thursday because of a national holiday.

In Indonesia, the International Monetary Fund chief, Michel Camdessus, was to push Suharto for stronger, quicker action to pull the world’s fourth-most-populous country out of its economic crisis.

Camdessus hoped to announce a new reform package after the meeting that would include incentives for Indonesia to proceed more rapidly with financial reform.

Meanwhile, an envoy of U.S. President Bill Clinton’s was to fly to Beijing as part of a whirlwind Asian tour aimed at restoring economic confidence that has been battered by plunging regional currencies and markets since last summer.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers was traveling to the Chinese capital after receiving an endorsement Wednesday from Hong Kong’s government for tough belt-tightening steps to deal with the region’s financial crisis.

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