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Local market finishes flat ahead of US Fed decision

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Shares in Taiwan closed little changed after moving in a narrow range Wednesday as many investors were waiting to hear what the U.S. Federal Reserve has decided at its two-day policymaking meeting ending later Wednesday, dealers said.

Concurrently, the U.S. dollar rose against the Taiwan dollar Wednesday, gaining NT$0.029 to close at the day's high of NT$29.745 after moving in a narrow range ahead of the conclusion of a U.S. Federal Reserve policymaking meeting expected for later in the day, dealers said.

Market sentiment was cautious as investors wondered whether the Fed will begin scaling down its massive bond injections, a move that could drain liquidity from global equity markets, they said.

The bellwether electronics sector suffered losses as investors locked in gains posted a session earlier, but some manufacturers in Apple Inc.'s supply chain outperformed the sector on expectations of more iPhone shipments, dealers said.

The weighted index closed down 3.89 points, or 0.04 percent, at 8,349.04, after fluctuating between 8,333.31 and 8,375.52, on turnover of NT$73.44 billion (US$2.47 billion).

“It was a quiet day today as many investors held their breath before the conclusion of the Fed's two-day meeting,” President Securities analyst Vickie Hsieh said.

The odds that the Fed will decide to cut back the current US$85 billion bond buying program have risen since Washington reported better-than-expected hiring data for November earlier this month.

“So concerns over a possible early exit by the U.S. dictated investors' sentiment at home and abroad, and they preferred to stay on the sidelines today,” said Hsieh, who noted that her brokerage does not see the Fed changing its course at the meeting.

Hsieh said the electronics sector, which closed down 0.40 percent, suffered more downward pressure as several heavyweights, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (台積電) and integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc. (聯發科), incurred losses.

TSMC, the most heavily weighted index in the local market, fell 2.42 percent to end at NT$101.00, and MediaTek lost 1.30 percent to close at NT$418.00.

The silver lining was that some “Apple concept stocks” attracted buying to lend support to the broader market on hopes that iPhone shipments will increase next year.

In the old economy sector, Nan Ya Plastics Corp. (南亞) fell 0.73 percent to close at NT$88.00, while textile maker Far Eastern New Century Corp. (遠東新世紀) rose 0.15 percent to end at NT$33.55.

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