By Mariko Ando, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Hong Kong falls, Taiwan jumps
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down 31.66 points, or 0.3 percent, at 10,725.30, giving up earlier gains. The index has lost 5.7percent since the start of this month.
China Mobile /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 -2.15% fell 0.7 percent to HK$22.30.
Smaller rival China Unicom /zigman2/quotes/205476740/composite CHU +10.24% /zigman2/quotes/205091392/delayed HK:762 -0.83% lost 1.3 percent to HK$7.50. The mainland's second largest wireless carrier said its subscribers to its global system for mobile network had grown by 5.1 percent as of December 31 compared with November 20. It also had 27 million subscribers as of December 31, against 25.7 million as of November 20.
Hutchison Whampoa , which has heavily invested in third generation cell phone services, closed 0.7 percent lower at HK$72.25.
Exporters ended lower hit by profit-taking. Li & Fung /zigman2/quotes/207140307/delayed LFUGF 0.00% erased earlier gains and closed down 3.4 percent at HK$10. Johnson Electric Holdings /zigman2/quotes/210560228/delayed JELCF -2.65% /zigman2/quotes/202627590/delayed HK:179 -5.34% , the world's second-largest maker of micromotors, dropped 4.4 percent to HK$8.70.
Taiwanese stocks jumped, led by a rally for heavyweight chipmakers. The Weighted Index closed up 1 percent at 5,872.14 points. The stock market will be closed from February 7 to 18 for the Lunar New Year holiday.
United Microelectronics /zigman2/quotes/207234499/composite UMC 0.00% rose 3.6 percent to NT$46.60, ahead of fourth-quarter business results due later in the day. Bigger rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing /zigman2/quotes/204359850/composite TSM -1.23% advanced 0.6 percent to NT$87.50.
Seoul stocks lower
South Korea's Kospi ended down 0.2 percent at 748.07, giving up initial gains.
Volume leader Hynix Semiconductor dropped 3.2 percent to 2,440 won. Germany's Infineon Technologies AG said it's in talks with the South Korean chipmaker on a possible alliance in the area of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips. See full story.
Media reported that alliance talks between Hynix and Micron Technology /zigman2/quotes/205710729/composite MU +0.83% ended last week with no success and no future talks currently scheduled.
Semiconductor-parts maker Mirae fell 1.3 percent to 2,705 won and Samsung Electronics /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF -29.70% lost 0.8 percent to 300,500 won.
News Corp. jumps in Sydney
Australia's All Ordinaries Index rose 0.9 percent to 3,404 points, led by a 2.8 percent rally for News Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204787942/composite NWS +2.69% to A$13.7.
Westpac Banking Corp. advanced 1 percent to A$15.80. Australia's third-largest bank will unveil further job cuts later today, the Australian Financial Review said.
In New Zealand, the benchmark NZ Top 40 inched up 0.2 percent to close at 2,125.67 points.
Market heavyweight Telecom NZ fell 0.9 percent to NZ$5.43. The company is scheduled to post its second quarter and half year results February 19.
Elsewhere in the region, Manila's PSE Composite rallied 4.2 percent to 1,361.94, the highest level since July 31, 2001. Broad-based issues gained ground after the government released the better-than-expected GDP growth of 3.4 percent in 2001.
Property firm Ayala Land shot up 8.5 percent to 6.40 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone /zigman2/quotes/207980691/composite PHI +0.27% added 2 percent to 510 pesos.
Singapore's Straits Times Index gained 1.8 percent to 1,786.89 points.