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Taiwan shares end above 8,600, led by electronics

TAIPEI--Shares in Taiwan closed above the 8,600-point mark Wednesday, following a rebound staged by U.S. markets overnight on better-than-expected retail sales data in the United States, dealers said.

The bellwether electronics sector led the broader market higher, with large-cap high-tech stocks attracting interest as investors took cues from a strong showing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq index, they said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange ended up 54.41 points, or 0.63 percent, at 8,602.55, after fluctuating between 8,567.81 and 8,619.56, on turnover of NT$115.18 billion (US$3.84 billion).

The market opened up 0.23 percent in reaction to the gains posted by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and momentum continued as buying in the electronics heavyweights accelerated to keep the index above 8,600 points at the close, dealers said.

"These large cap electronics stocks made significant comebacks after Intel Corp. gained sharply overnight. The buying in Intel shares served as a strong indicator for investors to pick up electronics bargains here," Mega International Investment Services Corp. analyst Alex Huang said.

"With the electronics sector coming out of its recent doldrums, today's turnover expanded to more than NT$100 billion," Huang said. The electronics sub-index closed up 1.17 percent.

Huang said the buying in Intel shares was sparked by analysts' upgrades of their recommendations on the stock.

Among the personal computer stocks that advanced after having been depressed by demand weakness, Compal Electronics Inc. (仁寶電腦) gained 6.03 percent to close at NT$23.75, and Quanta Computer Inc. (廣達電腦) added 4.15 percent to end at NT$77.80.

Apple-concept Stocks Boosted by iPhone 5S Sales

Largan Precision Co. (大立光電), a smartphone camera lens supplier to Apple Inc., rose 7 percent, the maximum daily increase, to close at NT$1,190.00 and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海精密), which assembles iPhones and iPads, added 1.22 percent to end at NT$83.30.

Huang said the two "Apple concept stocks" got a boost from hopes that the iPhone 5S, the latest version of Apple's smartphones, will generate good sales in China, where the iPhone 5S model will go on sale Friday.

In addition, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (台積電), the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, rose 1.45 percent to close at NT$105.00 ahead of an investor conference scheduled for Thursday.

Huang said as funds largely flocked into the electronics sector, which accounted for about 70 percent of the day's trading volume, most old economy stocks appeared lackluster.

In the industrial sector, textile maker Far Eastern New Century Corp. (遠東新世紀) fell 1.63 percent to NT$33.20, while food product supplier Uni-President Enterprises Corp. (統一企業) closed unchanged at NT$52.10.

"Judging from the December retail sales data in the U.S., I'm not worried about the micro-economy. But I would suggest that investors pay close attention to the current earnings reporting season in the U.S., which could affect the local electronics sector," Huang said.

"It is possible that local share prices could pull back if Wall Street faces volatility down the road," Huang said.

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