Share prices closed 0.12 percent lower yesterday as bargain hunting offset the impact of Wall Street's overnight downturn and selling linked to the settlement of local January futures contracts, dealers said.
They said a technical rebound had failed to push the index higher as most investors chose to stay sidelined ahead of earnings results from both local and US companies.
The TAIEX closed down 7.25 points at 5,888.10, on turnover of NT$64.48 billion (US$2.02 billion).
Decliners led risers 449 to 308, with 170 stocks unchanged.
"The heavier selling right after the opening was apparently tied to futures contracts settlement and did not extend toward the close," Yuanta Core Pacific Securities (
"I don't think people will want to build aggressive positions in the near term, with the Lunar New Year holidays just around the corner," he added.
Taiwan's stock markets will be closed for a week starting Feb. 4.
If the New Taiwan dollar, which has been appreciating since late last year, stopped gaining, there was a risk of foreign investors cashing out, Fang said.
The NT dollar declined against its US counterpart, closing NT$0.073 lower at NT$31.875 in Taipei. The unit opened lower on speculation the nation's central bank will sell the currency after Wednesday's strongest close since October 2000.
But the currency later pared losses on speculation the Group of Seven industrial nations will ask China to adjust its currency peg to allow for gains.