■ TAIEX closes flat
Shares ended flat yesterday, with caution over the central bank's quarterly meeting next week and over the New Taiwan dollar's decline offsetting any potential lift from the overnight US stock rally. The TAIEX rose only 1 point, or 0.01 percent, to 6,141.14. Analysts said investors are concerned the NT dollar's recent decline will trigger further foreign-fund outflows. Meanwhile, uncertainty about the central bank's monetary policy decisions at its quarterly meeting on Sept. 15 weighed on shares, analysts said. In a report published yesterday, Citigroup said it expects the central bank to raise the key interest rate by 25 basis points because of higher-than-expected inflationary pressure and rising oil prices.
■ Hsieh monitoring inflation
Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday promised that he will do his best to avoid inflation, in terms of raising local gasoline and utilities prices. Last month, the consumer price index rose 3.56 percent year-on-year on rising food and energy expenses, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics reported on Monday. While the CPI figure was a seven-year high, the government said the inflation barometer is within a reasonable range. "Our analysis and study also shows that the 3.56 percent inflation was a result of the devastation by two typhoons in the same month," Hsieh told a press briefing. According to the DGBAS, 3 percent inflation is regarded as reasonable.
■ UMC says monthly sales rose
United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), the world's second ranked contract chipmaker, said yesterday that its sales rose to NT$8.01 billion (US$245 million) last month from NT$7.07 billion in July but were down 30.43 percent from a year earlier. Sales in the eight months to last month fell to NT$54.80 billion from NT$77.22 billion previously, it said, without giving further details. At a July 27 investor conference, UMC had said it expected wafer shipments in the third quarter to increase by mid-teen percentage points from the second. The company also expected its selling prices to rise by low single-digit percentage points sequentially.
■ FSC in talks about futures index
The Financial Supervisory Commission is in talks with Morgan Stanley Capital International Inc about compiling a Taiwan futures index, a Chinese-language newspaper reported, citing commission spokesman Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正). The talks will initially focus on compiling an index for foreign-currency denominated futures products, in a bid to strengthen the competitiveness of Taiwan's futures market, the paper said. The commission on Aug. 16 denied a report that Morgan Stanley Capital International may remove the nation's stock market from its global indexes because of disputes over the pricing of its MSCI Taiwan index futures.
■ NT dollar pares losses
The New Taiwan dollar pared losses as investors abroad bought the most of the nation's stocks in a month. Increasing equity demand spurred speculation that global fund managers will need to buy more NT dollars to fund their purchases. The NT dollar weakened 0.2 percent to NT$32.643 after falling to a one-week low of NT$32.706, according to Taipei Forex Inc. Money managers outside Taiwan bought a net NT$2.8 billion (US$86 million) of the nation's shares, the most since Aug. 11, according to Taiwan Stock Exchange figures.