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Taiwan shares end slightly higher despite U.S. market plunge

2018/12/17 18:50:26

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan closed slightly higher Monday as select large cap stocks in both the tech and old economy sectors attracted bargain hunters, offsetting the impact of heavy losses on U.S. markets at the end of last week, dealers said.

Turnover shrank to a low for December amid continued concerns over trade tensions between the United States and China and the growing number of foreign institutional investors who have left for the Christmas and New Year holidays, they said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE), the Taiex, ended up 13.37 points, or 0.14 percent, at 9,787.53, after moving between 9,733.98 and 9,826.88, on turnover of NT$77.94 billion (US$2.52 billion).

The market opened down 0.12 percent and moved to the day's low early in the morning as market sentiment was hurt by a 2.02 percent plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a 2.26 percent fall in the tech-heavy Nasdaq on Friday.

Those losses were triggered by renewed concerns over a potentially weaker global economy after China reported disappointing economic data, dealers said.

China's industrial production rose 5.4 percent year-on-year in November, the slowest pace in almost three years, and its retail sales in November rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier, the lowest rate of growth since 2003.

The Taiex soon regained its footing after its early weakness, however, as bargain hunters picked up market heavyweights, such as contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co.

"As with other regional markets, Taiwan's stock market fell sharply Friday as investors saw the Dow futures plunging, pointing to an ugly opening later in the day," equity market analyst Andy Hsu said.

The Taiex closed down 0.86 percent on Friday.

"As other regional markets rebounded from their lows today, bargain hunting emerged here as investors left the heavy U.S. losses behind, at least for the time being," Hsu said, referring to regional markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Among the rebounding tech stocks, TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, gained 0.45 percent to close at NT$223.50, off a low of NT$220.00 with 18.95 million shares changing hands.

Also in the bellwether electronics sector, Largan, an Apple supplier, rose 1.23 percent to end at NT$3,300.00 after hitting NT$3,210.00, while iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. fell 0.56 percent to close at NT$71.10.

Bucking the upturn on the broader market, financially troubled flat panel maker Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. and solar wafer supplier Green Energy Technology Inc. both fell 10 percent, the daily maximum decline, to close at NT$1.06 and NT$4.97, respectively.

Buying was also seen among certain old economy stocks, with Asia Cement Corp. closing 2.35 percent higher at NT$34.80 and Taiwan Cement Corp. gaining 0.70 percent to end at NT$36.00 on bargain hunting, dealers said.

Boosted by falling fuel costs, EVA Airways rose 2.26 percent to close at NT$15.85 and China Airlines gained 3.29 percent to end at NT$11.00.

"Monday's trading session was quiet on lower turnover as investors were reluctant to chase prices before Washington and Beijing resolve their trade dispute," Hsu said.

"Moreover, the upcoming holidays have turned many foreign institutional investors away to keep trading volume light, and that light turnover is expected to continue," Hsu said.

According to the TWSE, foreign institutional investors sold a net NT$167 million in shares on the main exchange Friday.

(By Frances Huang)
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