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Local bourse ends little changed in thin trade

TAIPEI -- Shares in Taiwan closed almost flat in thin trade Friday as many investors scaled back their investments ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday to avoid possible negative factors from overseas during the period, dealers said.

Although Premier Sean Chen has tendered his resignation for health reasons, many investors expect his successor Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah will continue the Cabinet's current policies, so that development has had little impact on market movement, dealers said.

The financial and construction sectors continued to attract bargain hunters, while smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co. gained sharply on its fourth quarter results, lending some support to the electronics sector, dealers said.

The weighted index closed up 5.95 points, or 0.07 percent, at 7,855.97, after moving between 7,832.23 and 7,866.23, on turnover of NT$69.83 billion (US$2.36 billion).

The market opened up 3.73 points and continued to move in a narrow range throughout the trading session, as many investors took to the sidelines before the New Year holiday, dealers said.

“There are only three trading sessions left before the holiday. It is no surprise that turnover remained thin amid concerns about negative factors from the global financial markets during the long holiday,” Concord Securities analyst Kerry Huang said.

The last trading day before the Feb. 9-17 Lunar New Year holiday is Feb. 6.

“Fortunately, the financial sector continued to rise amid plans by China to allow Taiwanese securities firms to set up joint ventures there,” Huang said.

Chinatrust Financial Holding rose 1.18 percent to close at NT$17.10, and Capital Securities gained 0.87 percent to end at NT$11.60. The financial sub-index closed up 0.2 percent.

“I expect the financial sector will attract more buying over the next few sessions as domestic banks will soon start Chinese yuan-denominated business,” Huang said.

“The strength of financial stocks could further lift the broader market before the market closes for the New Year holiday,” he said.

“The construction sector, benefiting from its relatively low valuation, also moved higher,” Huang said.

The sector ended 0.4 percent higher, with Crowell Development rising by 7 percent, the maximum daily increase, to close at NT$11.85, and King's Town Construction ending 1.97 percent higher at NT$31.00.

In the electronics sector, which closed up 0.02 percent, Largan rose 3.10 percent to NT$797.00 after it reported NT$2.87 billion in net profit in the fourth quarter of last year, more than double its NT$1.16 billion net profit in the previous quarter.

However, the company gave a cautious market outlook for the current quarter, a traditional slow season for the industry, forecasting that its revenue will fall from the previous quarter.

Among other large-cap high-tech stocks, smartphone vendor HTC Corp. fell 0.51 percent to close at NT$290.00, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. ended unchanged at NT$101.50.

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