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Local market finishes flat ahead of 8,800 mark

TAPEI -- Shares in Taiwan closed little changed on Friday as investors locked in gains after the index briefly breached the nearest level of technical resistance at around 8,800 points, dealers said.

While downward pressure was seen across the board, select high-tech stocks, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (台積電), bucked the trend to prevent the index from falling further, they said.

The financial sector also outperformed the broader market as bargain hunters were attracted by its relatively low valuations after a recent consolidation, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange ended down 4.93 points, or 0.05 percent, at 8,774.64, after moving between 8,751.07 and 8,812.41, on turnover of NT$96.95 billion (US$3.18 billion).

The market opened up 0.34 points and rose to the day's high as investors shrugged off a lackluster Wall Street session hurt by the failure of several U.S. banks to pass annual stress tests, dealers said.

After the index moved above the 8,800-point mark, however, investors rushed to pocket their earlier gains to push the broader market into negative territory at the end of the session, they said.

“Technical hurdles ahead of 8,800 points remained high. Today's turnover was not big enough to help the index overcome the technical difficulties,” Concord Securities analyst Kerry Huang said.

“With listed companies set to release their March sales data over the next two weeks, many investors preferred to cash in their holdings and take to the sidelines for the moment.

“Unless listed companies report satisfactory sales data, the local market is likely to remain in consolidation mode,” he cautioned.

Upcoming U.S. Economic Data Could Move the World

"In addition to the sales data in the local market, investors should pay close attention to the upcoming economic data on Wall Street, in particular non-farm payroll data due out next week, which could move the global markets," Huang said.

Among the stocks that suffered profit taking pressure during the session, smartphone camera lens supplier Largan Precision Co. (大立光電) fell 1.05 percent to close at NT$1,420.00, off an early high of NT$1,465.00.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海精密), which assembles iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc. closed unchanged at NT$86.30, off an early high of NT$86.40.

In the old economy sector, Eclat Textile Co. (儒鴻企業) fell 4.78 percent to end at NT$329.00, and Shihlin Paper Corp. (士林紙業) lost 0.88 percent to close at NT$44.80.

"Fortunately, TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock in the local market, posted gains on optimism over its shipments in the second and third quarter, helping the broader market fend off some selling," Huang said.

TSMC closed up 1.29 percent to close at NT$117.50 on market speculation that the world's largest contract chip maker has secured orders to make A8 chips for Apple's next generation of iPhones.

Asustek Computer Inc. (華碩電腦) gained 2.04 percent to end at NT$300.00 after the personal computer vendor proposed to dole out a high cash dividend for 2013, while Compal Electronics Inc. (仁寶電腦) added 7 percent, the maximum daily increase, to close at NT$21.90 after the notebook computer maker turned a profit in the fourth quarter.

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