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Manufacturing sector more bearish over future: think tank

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's manufacturing sector has grown more pessimistic about its economic prospects over the next six months amid growing uncertainty over the global economy, an economic think tank reported yesterday.

According to the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research's (TIER's) latest monthly survey of the domestic business environment, the seasonally adjusted manufacturing composite indicator for September fell by 0.13 points to 90.29, from 90.42 the previous month.

The drop was the first decrease after two consecutive monthly rises, the Taipei-based institute said.

In contrast, the country's service sector was more optimistic about the future. Its composite indicator for the month rose by 0.6 points to 88.76, from 88.16 in August, according to the report.

“It is not very common at this time of the year to see manufacturers pessimistic at the same time as service providers are more optimistic,” said Gordon Sun, director of the TIER's Macroeconomic Forecasting Center.

“This means the economy is still not very stable,” Sun told CNA by telephone.

The monthly economic survey found that 13.4 percent of Taiwan's manufacturers held a positive outlook in September for the economy's prospects in the coming six months, down 10 percentage points from August.

The percentage of those who were bearish on the economy rose to 34.6 percent from 33.1 percent the previous month, the survey showed.

As for the services sector, most businesses also had a conservative outlook, Sun said, citing the report.

Looking to the future, Taiwan's economic performance in the last quarter of the year is likely to be the best of the year, bolstered by the electronics component industry, which is benefiting from new product launches, Sun predicted.

Uncertainty will loom again during the first quarter of 2013, however, as China sorts out its political transition and the United States digests the results of its national elections in November, Sun said, noting that fears of such uncertainty were reflected in the latest survey.

Over 50 percent of those polled held a neutral or conservative view over near-term economic prospects, he said.

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