Taipei, Jan. 20 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan closed higher Monday but gains were limited as investors grew cautious ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and hesitated to chase prices, dealers said.
The electronics sector moved in a narrow range as large cap stocks, such as contract Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), came off early highs, while buying rotated to the financial sector, a market laggard, they said.
The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE), the Taiex, ended up 28.42 points, or 0.24 percent, at 12,118.71, after moving between 12,101.55 and 12,151.42. Turnover was NT$113.315 billion (US$3.77 billion).
The market opened up 0.14 percent after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index hit new highs overnight.
Electronics stocks in Taiwan moved higher early before some investors started moving to the sell side, but buying rotated to financial stocks to keep the Taiex above the 12,100-point mark, dealers said.
"Today's turnover fell to some extent, typical for a session ahead of a prolonged holiday, as many investors appeared wary of possible negative leads from foreign markets during the holiday," Mega International Investment Services Corp. analyst Alex Huang said.
Monday was the last trading session before the New Year's holiday. Trading will resume Jan. 30.
TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, closed unchanged at NT$333.00 after hitting a high of NT$335.50, with 32.50 million shares changing hands.
Among other tech heavyweights which saw their gains capped, iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., second to TSMC in terms of market capitalization, ended unchanged at NT$92.30, off a high of NT$93.40.
Largan Precision Co., a supplier of smartphone camera lenses to Apple Inc., fell 0.20 percent to end at NT$4,975.00 after hitting a high of NT$5,015.00.
Also in the electronics sector, integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc. fell 0.36 percent to end at NT$419.00, while dynamic random access memory chipmaker Nanya Technology Co. rose 1.19 percent to end at NT$85.20.
Printed circuit board maker Compeq Manufacturing Co. added 2.20 percent to end at NT$46.45.
The electronics sector closed up 0.13 percent at 532.05, off an earlier high of 534.20.
Among old economy stocks, which trended lower, food brand Uni-President Enterprise Corp. fell 0.40 percent to close at NT$75.40, Asia Cement Corp. lost 0.31 percent to end at NT$48.70. and Nan Ya Plastics Corp. dropped 0.27 percent to close at NT$72.80.
Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp. bucked the downtrend, gaining 0.23 percent to end at NT$88.20.
The financial sector, which rose 0.64 percent, continued to get a boost from buying by foreign institutional investors, who believe financial shares remained undervalued, Huang said.
E. Sun Financial Holding Co. rose 1.03 percent to close at NT$29.30, Mega Financial Holding Co. added 0.78 percent to end at NT$32.35, and Cathay Financial Holding Co. closed unchanged at NT$43.10.
"Taiwan and the U.S. have entered earnings season so company results for the fourth quarter and sales guidance for the current quarter are expected to continue to dictate the market after the holiday, in particular tech stocks," Huang said, referring to Apple's investor conference scheduled for Jan. 28.
According to the TWSE, foreign institutional investors bought a net NT$5.14 billion in shares on Monday.