Taiwan shares end above 9,200 points

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan continued its momentum to move higher and close above the 9,200 point mark Wednesday as the market remained awash in liquidity on the back of further fund inflows into the country, dealers said. While interest continued for select large-cap electronics stocks, buying also rotated to old economy and financial stocks, in particular in the latter part of the trading session, pushing up the broader market to close at the day's high, the dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange(TWSE) ended up 45.34 points, or 0.50 percent, at the day's high of 9,200.42, off an early low of 9,131.63, on turnover of NT$79.37 billion (US$2.54 billion).

The market opened up 5.86 points on lackluster performance on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up only 0.02 percent and the S&P 500 index ended just 0.04 percent overnight, in consolidation mode, the dealers said.

The local main board continued to move in a narrow range for most of the trading session, but got a last-ditch boost to vault the weighted index past 9,200 points at the close, they said.

"The non-high-tech sector served as the major driver of the gains posted by the broader market today, in reflection of rotational buying at a time when many investors, in particular foreign institutional investors, still had ample funds on hand," Mega International Investment Services Corp. analyst Alex Huang said.

"A rising Taiwan dollar showed that foreign funds kept coming into the local market, which boosted these non-high-tech stocks that had lagged behind their high-tech counterparts and even the broader market in recent sessions," Huang said.

Among the gaining stocks in the old economy sector, Formosa Plastics Corp. rose 1.02 percent to close at NT$79.60, food maker Uni-President Enterprises Corp. added 1.75 percent to end at NT$63.80, and Formosa Petrochemical Corp. gained 3.48 percent to close at NT$98.00.

In the financial sector, which was also boosted by late-session interest and closed up 0.90 percent, Taiwan Cooperative Financial Holding Co. added 3.25 percent to end at NT$14.30, Yuanta Financial Holding Co. rose 2.60 percent to close at NT$18.00, and CTBC Financial Holding Co. ended up 1.41 percent at NT$18.00.

"Compared with the broader market, it seems that trading in the electronics sector appeared calm, as investors appeared reluctant to chase prices at a time of appreciation of the Taiwan dollar due to further fund inflows," Huang said. "There have been fears that a higher Taiwan dollar could lead high-tech exporters to report foreign exchange losses in the third quarter."

Since the beginning of the third quarter, the Taiwan dollar had risen about 2.50 percent against the U.S. dollar as of Tuesday.

The bellwether electronics sector closed up 0.18 percent, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the most heavily weighted stock in the local equity market, up 0.56 percent to end at NT$179.50.

Also in the high-tech sector, smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co. rose 1.06 percent to close at NT$3,820.00, and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. added 0.11 percent to end at NT$90.00, while flat panel maker AU Optronics Corp. fell 2.62 percent to close at NT$13.00.

"The market could face stiff technical resistance ahead of 9,250 points, so I think it is possible for the index to test 9,200 points again and consolidate for a while before another take-off," Huang said.

According to the TWSE, foreign institutional investors bought a net NT$6.87 billion-worth of shares on the main board Wednesday. (By Frances Huang)