Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan trended lower Tuesday as investors locked in gains built in the previous few sessions, but the weighted index still closed above the 8,100-point mark amid ample liquidity, dealers said. Foreign institutional investors stayed on the buy side, lending support to large-cap stocks to keep some of them from sliding further and help others recoup their earlier losses, they said.
The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange closed down 25.72 points, or 0.32 percent, at 8,131.24, after moving between 8,091.14 and 8,156.25, on turnover of NT$72.99 billion (US$2.18 billion).
The market opened down 0.19 percent as investors pocketed gains recorded in recent days with a mixed Wall Street overnight failing to provide any clear indication of the market's direction, dealers said.
With selling increasing to briefly push the weighted index below 8,100 points, bargain hunters turned active to vault the broader market back to that level by the end of the session, they said.
"Foreign institutional investors still hold a large chunk of long position contracts in the local futures market, which shows they remain upbeat about the local spot equity market for the moment," MasterLink Securities analyst Tom Tang said.
Foreign institutional investors currently hold about 23,600 more long position contracts than short position contracts in the futures market, according to the analyst.
Tang said foreign investors continue to move funds into the local equity market after the U.S. Federal Reserve left its key interest rates unchanged last week, boosting the market's liquidity.
"That's why the weighted index was able to stay above 8,100 points today," Tang said.
According to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, foreign institutional investors bought a net NT$4.20 billion in shares on Taiwan's main board Tuesday.
Among the stocks that closed higher after early slides on Tuesday, Fubon Financial Holding Co. rose 0.26 percent to end at NT$38.50, off an early low of NT$37.75 and Formosa Plastics Corp. gained 0.39 percent to close at NT$76.50, off an early low of NT$75.80.
Nan Ya Plastics Corp. ended up 0.68 percent at NT$59.40, recovering from an early low of NT$58.30.
Tang said that even some electronics heavyweights that trended lower, such as contract chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), saw only mild selling "as the market was awash in liquidity."
TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, fell 1.04 percent to close at NT$142.50, off an early low of NT$142.00, with 25.39 million shares changing hands.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., an assembler of iPhones and iPads, lost 1.38 percent to end at NT$78.40.
Bucking the downturn in the broader market, integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc. ended 0.95 percent higher at NT$212.00, after recovering from a low of NT$193.50.
The stock faced heavy selling at the market's opening after the company reported on Monday a 47.5 percent sequential decline in its net profit in the fourth quarter, but bargain hunting emerged when the stock fell below the NT$200 mark, pushing the stock into positive territory at the close, dealers said.
"The main board appeared resilient compared with several regional counterparts," Tang said, referring to Tokyo and Seoul. "But how local shares will move in the future will depend on whether global markets will stabilize." (By Frances Huang)