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Who Needs the U.S.?
With Andy Stiles, regional dealing director at Jardine Fleming
November 22, 1999
Web posted at 11 p.m. Hong Kong time, 10 a.m. EDT

CNNfn: Nikkei roars; HK soars
Techs boost Tokyo 251 points; HK soars to highest close in two years
- Monday, Nov. 22, 1999

Market Q&A: The Fed Raises Rates, Ho-Hum
With Phillip Smyth, economist at Paribas Asia Equity
- Wednesday, Nov. 17, 1999

Asia Buzz: Monsters in My Pocket!
On Picasso, Pikachu and the Japanese Horde
- Monday, Nov. 22, 1999

Culture on Demand: It's Alive!
Spontaneity on the Net
- Saturday, Nov. 20, 1999

The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

Daily Briefing
Today's headlines from across the region

Q: Andy, I'm flabbergasted by the rally in Asia I'm missing because I'm in the States. What's going on?
A: Somebody in passing mentioned to me this morning, "Taiwan's gonna be good today," and it certainly has been, it's up nearly 2%. It broke 8,000 for the first time in months, and I'd say it really stands out as being the most interesting market at the moment. For a long time it's been really stagnant, and even when you look at the index on the year it's only up very modestly. But Friday's increase in the amount foreign funds are allowed to invest was a really positive sign. There was a lot of foreign buying all over the area.

Q: And it's been another good day for Hong Kong.
A: Hutch has of course done very well. There's a story that Deutsch Telekom wants to buy Cable and Wireless HKT, but only the wireless part of it, and that's pulled it up today. Wharf has done extremely well because the plan to list I-cable, the broadband Internet access venture, has been about 15 times oversubscribed. The Tracker fund is still doing well.

Q: Is this a WTO story? Is this a "we've finally conquered the crisis" story?
A: It's actually, I think, the NASDAQ. If you look at the NASDAQ performance and line it up with the Hang Seng performance, or with Japan's performance, it's actually disarmingly similar.

Q: Speaking of which, what's going on in Japan? People actually started buying real estate last week!
A: There were some good consumption figures and property started to pick up. The feeling is the domestic demand is starting to trickle back. But Japan's gains have largely been in your Softbanks, your NTT, just as Hong Kong has been so led by Pacific Century Cyberworks and telecoms plays, which is why they are mirroring the NASDAQ so closely. But it's funny, remember back in August when I said there were some predictions that the Nikkei could reach 20,000? In October that seemed absolutely absurd, but the NASDAQ was around 2,700 then. With the Nikkei at 18.8--a yearly high--it certainly isn't beyond the bounds of possibility.

Q: Does that mean we can be less dependent on the U.S. economy--because we've got a bullish Japan? Or does this mean that we're more tied to the U.S. than ever--because we're mirroring the NASDAQ so closely?
A: Well, with Japan--the world's second-largest economy--emerging I think you'll see Asia less and less reliant on the U.S. to save the world. I think the move into real estate last week was a very positive sign. It means the sentiment of the people on the ground is really improving when investors are not solely investing in growth stocks anymore. In Hong Kong I think you'll start to see people buying more pure property plays like Henderson. I think that around the region you'll see people suddenly start to buy engineering and pharmaceutical stocks. Volume has been really strong around the region--I know our firm has had a very busy week, and everything has a very positive feel to it.

Q: Except?
A: Well, the Philippines catches the eye as being the most uninteresting market at the moment. Obviously, the quickest way to get in on the Asian recovery is through Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan. But Indonesia because of politics and the Philippines because of just general stagnation are going to be overlooked. Thailand has held up quite well, in contrast, but those two are just not worth it.

By Maureen Tkacik/TIME Asia

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