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Taiwan shares higher as electronics sector gains

2019/03/22 18:15:08

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan closed up moderately as the bellwether electronics sector attracted buying, in particular in the late-trading session, helping the broader market to recoup earlier losses, dealers said.

The high-tech sector got a boost from semiconductor heavyweights, led by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), on the back of gains posted by integrated circuit (IC) stocks in the U.S. market overnight, while non-tech stocks appeared mixed throughout the session, the dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, or Taiex, closed up 29.52 points, or 0.28 percent, at 10,639.07, after moving between 10,589.47 and 10,667.94 on turnover of NT$130.36 billion (US$4.23 billion).

The market opened down 0.31 percent on follow-though buying from a session earlier, when the Taiex closed up 0.55 percent, as investors took cues from gains posted on the U.S. markets, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 0.84 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index closed up 1.42 percent, the dealers said.

With the main board hitting the day's high, investors started to lock in their earlier gains before buying re-emerged, led by IC stocks, which pushed up the broader market back into positive territory by the end of the session, they said.

"Thanks to TSMC and other large-cap IC stocks, the main board managed to close above the previous closing level after recouping earlier losses," Hua Nan Securities analyst Kevin Su said, referring to a 3.50 percent increase posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index in the United States Thursday.

"I guess foreign institutional investors stood on the buy side to boost the spot market as they raised the number of net long-position futures contracts Thursday," Su said, adding that foreign institutional investors raised the number of net long-position futures contracts by 6,800 from a day earlier to about 63,800 Thursday.

According to the TWSE, foreign institutional investors bought a net NT$2.85 billion-worth of shares on the main board Friday.

TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, gained 1.22 percent to end at the day's high of NT$248.40, with 22.89 million shares changing hands. Led by TSMC, the bellwether electronics sector rose 0.54 percent and the semiconductor sub-index added 1.18 percent.

TSMC's buying also spread to other IC stocks, with IC designer MediaTek Inc. up 2.34 percent to end at NT$284.00 and IC packaging and testing services provider ASE Technology Holding Co. up 3.45 percent to close at NT$65.90.

Bucking the upturn enjoyed by the broader market, Largan Precision Co., a supplier of smartphone camera lenses to Apple Inc., fell 1.69 percent to end at NT$4,665.00 and Catcher Technology Co., a supplier of metal casings to Apple, lost 1.28 percent to close at NT$231.00.

"The financial sector lagged behind the broader market as investors rushed to pocket gains posted in the past few sessions, capping the gains on the Taiex by the end of the session," Su said.

In the financial sector, which ended down 0.59 percent, CTBC Financial Holding Co. shed 0.48 percent to close at NT$20.90, Fubon Financial Holding Co. lost 1.07 percent to end at NT$46.40 and Cathay Financial Holding Co. fell 1.18 percent to close at NT$46.20.

Among the mixed old economy stocks, Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp. fell 0.46 percent to end at NT$109.00 and Formosa Plastics Corp. rose 0.94 percent to end at NT$107.50.

"As long as the Taiex continues to move above the 5-day moving average of around 10,561 points, the main board remains technically healthier and further gains are possible," Su said.

He said investors had better continue to pay close attention to the ongoing trade talks between Washington and Beijing, since they are expected to dictate the global financial market.

According to international news media, the U.S. and China will hold an eighth round of negotiations in Beijing next week and the next round is planned for April.

(By Frances Huang)