Stocks fell for the fourth straight session yesterday to their lowest level in three weeks on weak earnings from technology companies and a lack of progress on financial reforms.
The TAIEX finished 46.3 points lower, or 0.8 percent, at 5,935.99 in dealings valued at a moderate NT$54 billion (US$1.7 billion).
Decliners outnumbered advancers 625 to 127, while 130 issues ended the day unchanged.
The stock market has ended down in nearly every session since the beginning of the year, and the index has lost 204 points since Dec. 31's close of 6,139.69.
Institutional investors including foreign fund managers yesterday sold a net NT$20.9 million worth of shares, pushing the NT dollar 0.7 percent lower at NT$32.138 against its US counterpart on the Taipei foreign exchange market.
Overseas fund managers this week sold a net NT$6.8 billion of the nation's equities, according to Taiwan Stock Exchange figures. They were net buyers of stocks last week, helping the NT dollar gain 0.9 percent. The TAIEX slid 3.3 percent this week.
"There is no good news to trade on," said Morris Chen, an analyst at Daiwa Global Securities. "The recent shrinkage in overall trading volumes indicates investors' sentiment has been quite negative."
Yesterday's decline was partly due to technology companies' weaker-than-expected December earnings, analysts said.
"There's concern of more fund outflows that could weaken the Taiwan dollar," said Yang Kunyi, a currency trader at Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank. "Some investors are buying back the US currency."
The electronics subindex ended down 0.8 percent.
Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶電子), the world's second-largest notebook computer maker, ended down 3.9 percent at NT$29.5, after the company reported a 13.5 percent on-year decline in its December revenue. BenQ Corp (明基) finished off 3.4 percent at NT$34.1.
Financial shares also fell. Investors are concerned that a financial restructuring bill, aimed at helping consolidate Taiwan's fragmented financial industry, won't pass the legislature soon.
Leading the losses were Fuhwa Financial Holding Co (