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Possible gov't funds' entry tames sharp TAIEX decline

Taiwan stocks closed 0.48 percent lower yesterday, after suffering from a bigger drop that was later reversed on speculation government funds have entered the market.

At the end of the session, the benchmark index TAIEX fell 35.72 to close at 7,373.04, on thin trade volume of NT$49.081 billion.

The market opened tremendously lower, after a sharp retreat on Wall Street Friday, when Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 205.43 points, or 1.52 percent.

The TAIEX opened at 7,333, down 75 points from the previous session, well below the 7,400 psychological threshold and the 7,358 six-month moving average.

The government's National Stabilization Fund was apparently inactive yesterday, as one of its major targets, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., stayed in the negative territory throughout most part of the trade.

Yet it was reported that the government used its four major funds available at its disposal to purchase large-cap shares, pulling the TAIEX back up a bit to its closing value of 7,373.04.

All institutional investors were on the sell side, with foreign investors, investment trusts and securities firms net-selling NT$4.82 billion, NT$95 million and NT$608 million, respectively.

Besides the thin trade volume, stock borrowing has become another concern. According to data from the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE), stock borrowing has hit a total of 4.2303 million units, a historic high, raising concerns whether foreign investors are ready to sell short, a move that may send stocks down even further. Each stock unit is 1,000 shares.

As for whether the TSE will require investors to cover their short sales, TSE officials said they were unlikely to do so, given the trend of deregulation in the international stock markets.

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