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May 27, 2017

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Merrill Lynch strategist predicts rising trend in Taiwan stock market

TAIPEI -- International investors are optimistic about the outlook for Taiwan stocks, an equity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Wednesday in Taipei, attributing the confidence to three positive factors.

Katherine Hu cited the relative stability of the Taiwan dollar in the foreign exchange market, a healthy current account and an expected increase in local enterprises' revenues amid the recovery in the United States.

Under those circumstances, Merrill Lynch expects the benchmark index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange to rise to 9,300 points by the end of the year from the current level of about 8,600 points, Hu said at a press briefing on an investment forum Merrill Lynch organized in Taipei.

As for Taiwan's economic prospects over the next three to five years, government policies play an important role, the analyst said.

Hu said a smooth passage of Taiwan's trade-in-service agreement with China, the signing of a planned merchandise trade agreement between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and the legislation of amendments concerning free economic pilot zones will all help to accelerate Taiwan's economic development.

At the press conference, Dan Heyler, head of global semiconductor research at Merrill Lynch, predicted growth in Taiwan's semiconductor manufacturing industry late this year, driven by rising demand for smartphones, basic infrastructure facilities and tablet computers.

In the downstream hardware sector, Merrill Lynch technology analyst Robert Cheng said he is optimistic about the development of cloud computing, automation and supply of products to Apple Inc.

The forum, titled "Taiwan, Technology and Beyond Conference," was opened March 17 and will run through March 21. It is being attended by representatives of more than 170 businesses and 300 corporate investors from Taiwan and overseas.

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