Taiwan shares end slightly higher despite reduced turnover

Taipei, Shares in Taiwan closed slightly higher Saturday despite reduced trading volume as many foreign institutional investors were away from the trading floor on the weekend, dealers said.

Contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and some other large cap stocks in the non-high tech sector maintained their momentum from the previous session, offsetting the losses suffered by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. on disappointing 2017 earnings, dealers said.

Taiwan was the only equity market opened on Saturday, which was a regular workday to make up for an additional holiday during the Tomb Sweeping Festival next week.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange ended up 13.27 points, or 0.12 percent, at 10,919.49, after moving between 10,905.69 and 10,947.16, on turnover of NT$75.57 billion (US$2.60 billion).

The market opened up 0.18 percent on follow-through buying from the previous session but soon fell into consolidation mode, as buying in TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock on the local market, helped offset the impact of the selling in Hon Hai, dealers said.

"It was no surprise that the local main board moved in a quiet session today, given the lack of indications from Wall Street, which was closed on Good Friday," KGI Securities analyst Phil Chu said.

"With many foreign institutional investors away from the trading floor, turnover was reduced and there was little fluctuation in share prices," Chu said.

TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker, maintained its momentum from the previous session, which helped the broader market to remain above the previous close throughout the session, Chu said. TSMC gained 0.61 percent to close at NT$247.50, with 3.59 million shares changing hands.

Meanwhile, Hon Hai, the main assembler of iPhones, fell 3.17 percent to close at NT$88.50 on trading volume of 136.29 million. The loses resulted from its 2017 earnings report the previous day, which showed a 6.68 percent annual decline in net profit to NT$138.73 billion and an earnings per share of NT$8.01 compared with NT$8.60 in 2016.

Chu said the selling in Hon Hai most likely came primarily from foreign institutional investors who were disappointed with the weaker-than-expected demand for the iPhone X, which Hon Hai assembles.

According to the TWSE, foreign institutional investors sold a net NT$64.56 million worth of shares on the main board Saturday.

Chu said select old economy and financial stocks also lent support to the broader market.

Among the gaining old economy stocks, Formosa Plastics Corp. rose 0.48 percent to close at NT$104.00, and food brand Uni-President Enterprises Corp. gained 0.73 percent to end at NT$69.00.

In the financial sector, which closed up 0.21 percent, Cathay Financial Holding Co. added 1.16 percent to end at 52.50, and E. Sun Financial Holding Co. gained 0.25 percent to close at NT$19.55.

"Judging from the gains posted by non-high tech stocks, I think the buying came from retail and institutional local investors, as many foreign institutional investors were absent," Chu said. He said the local main board could see some technical support at around 10,800 points in the short term if there is any technical correction.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel