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Local market extends losses amid concerns over Ukraine

TAIPEI -- Shares in Taiwan closed lower Friday, extending losses from a session earlier in the wake of losses posted on Wall Street overnight amid renewed geopolitical concerns related to Ukraine, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange ended down 42.10 points, or 0.44 percent, at 9,436.27, after moving between 9,425.35 and 9,470.15 on turnover of NT$88.82 (US$2.96 billion).

Ukraine Spooks Global Markets

Tension along the border between Ukraine and Russia escalated overnight after news surfaced that Russian forces were inside Ukraine to support pro-Kremlin separatists who have been fighting against the Kiev government.

"The global equity markets felt the pinch of the impact from such non-economic factors. Many investors here fear that when geopolitical jitters get worse, the market will face more volatility down the road," Taishin Securities Investment Advisory analyst Tony Huang said.

"Therefore, many investors at home and elsewhere in the region simply cut their holdings for the moment before they are assured that the situation improves," Huang said, referring to the latest losses incurred in Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

The VIX Index, or the Volatility Index, which is a fear gauge on Wall Street, rose 3.3 percent at one point overnight.

Selling was seen almost across the board and non-high tech stocks faced heavier downward pressure on technical factors after recent gains, while the bellwether electronics sector remained in consolidation mode, the dealers said.

The market opened down 0.20 percent on follow-through selling from a day earlier, and as investor sentiment was dampened by geopolitical tensions, the index continued to move below the previous close for the rest of the session, the dealers said.

Huang said that the non-high tech sector suffered a steeper downturn as investors rushed to lock in gains they had built up in recent sessions.

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