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Local market ends flat as US jobs report looms, but 'Apple concept stocks' gain

TAIPEI -- Shares in Taiwan closed little changed Friday as many investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the release later in the day of a jobs report in the United States that could signal the U.S. Federal Reserve's next move, dealers said.

Though the broader market was relatively flat, select high-tech stocks, in particular companies in the Apple Inc. supply chain known as “Apple concept stocks,” posted significant gains on strong sales data for November, they said.

The market ended the session in the red, however, after heavy pressure on non-high-tech shares offset the upside of the electronics sector, they said.

The weighted index closed down 7.82 points, or 0.09 percent, at 8,367.72, after moving between 8,361.99 and 8,419.19 on turnover of NT$77.33 billion (US$2.61 billion).

The market opened down 2.93 points and moved to the day's low after Wall Street fell overnight amid fears that the Fed could soon curb its fund injections, but the weighted index then rebounded as “Apple concept stocks” pushed higher, dealers said.

“The Fed concerns are still dictating global financial markets after Washington reported stronger-than-expected economic growth for the third quarter and raised fears the central bank could soon end its bond buying program,” Hua Nan Securities analyst Stan Chang said.

US Non-farm Payroll Data Dictates Short-term Trend

"In Taiwan, many investors preferred to retreat from the trading floor, waiting for more clues on what the Fed might do. The November non-farm payroll data is, for now, the most important indicator to watch," Chang said.

Chang said the electronics sector, which closed up 0.21 percent, lent some support to the broader market, with select Apple suppliers in focus.

Among these Apple concept stocks, smartphone camera lens maker Largan Precision Co. (大立光) rose 4.63 percent to close at NT$1,130.00 after the company posted NT$3.18 billion in consolidated sales for November, up 8.8 percent from a month earlier and the highest monthly level in the company's history.

Largan remained the most expensive stock in the local market. Metal casing supplier Catcher Technology Co. (可成科技) gained 6.34 percent to close at 193.00, and battery maker Dynapack International Technology Corp. (順達科技) added the maximum 7 percent to end at NT$78.00 after both reported record highs for consolidated sales in November.

"Due to the Christmas shopping season, I think these Apple suppliers will continue to post strong sales in December. There is room for their share prices to go higher," Chang said.

In the non-high-tech sector, Taiwan Cement Corp. (台灣水泥) fell 3.69 percent to close at NT$44.35 percent as the positive leads from its strong earnings report for the first nine months have largely been digested.

Cathay Financial Holding Co. (國泰金控) fell 1.08 percent to end at NT$46.00, and Highwealth Construction Corp. (興富發) lost 1.72 percent to close at NT$62.70 on profit-taking.

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