Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Asustek, UMC lead as stocks decline

BLOOMBERG , TAIPEI

Stocks declined yesterday in Taipei. Exporters such as Asustek Com-puter Inc (華碩電腦) and United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) fell as the nation's outbreak of SARS worsened, threatening to weaken business and investor confidence.

The TAIEX shed 34.95, or 0.8 percent, to 4,216.64. About five stocks declined for every one that gained. Trading was worth NT$28.4 billion (US$819 million), or 39 percent below the average volume in the past three months.

The Taiwan Futures Index gained 0.3 percent to 4,240.

As the trading volume has continued to shrink over the past few days, Vice Minister of Finance Susan Chang (張秀蓮) was asked by lawmakers yesterday whether the government would close the stock market due to the outbreak. Chang said the Securities and Futures Commission has been monitoring the stock market closely.

While the commission might adopt measures to stabilize the market if necessary, it is unlikely that it would go so far as to close trading, Chang said.

On Tuesday the legislature approved a non-binding resolution, recommending the government shut the nation's markets and businesses for 10 days to control the spread of SARS.

"SARS has devastated the economy and the epidemic appears to be worsening," said Hebbe Lin, who manages NT$700 million fund at International Investment Trust Co (國際投信).

"An island-wide shutdown can help control the disease, but that can prompt investors to sell stocks ahead of the blackout," Lin said.

The government has slashed its growth forecast for this year to 2.89 percent from 3.68 percent, citing SARS.

Asustek dropped NT$1, or 1.4 percent, to NT$71.50.

UMC fell NT$0.40, or 2 percent, to NT$19.70.

SinoPac Holdings (建華金控) fell NT$0.25, or 2.1 percent, to NT$11.55 after it said it's bidding for Grand Commercial Bank (萬通銀行).

Losers

* Asustek dropped 1.4 percent to finish at NT$71.50.

* UMC fell 2 percent to close at NT$19.70.

* Taishin Financial Holdings Co lost 1.3 percent to end at NT$15.80.

* China Airlines slipped 0.9 percent to end the day at NT$11.45.


Grand Commercial fell 20 cents, or 2.0 percent, to NT$9.70.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manu-facturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) rose as much as 0.2 percent before closing unchanged at NT$48.

TSMC expects its US unit WaferTech may return to profit because of new computer-graphics chips orders from Nvidia Corp and tax reductions, a local newspaper reported, citing no one.

Taishin Financial Holdings Co (台新金控), the owner of the second-largest domestic credit-card issuer, fell NT$0.20, or 1.3 percent, to NT$15.80.

Taishin on Tuesday introduced a co-branded credit card with China Airlines Co (華航). China Airlines will give cardholders upgrades, the company said.

China Airlines fell NT$0.10, or 0.9 percent, to NT$11.45.

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