■ Shares close higher
Shares closed 1.18 percent higher on Friday, with Wall Street's overnight declines offset by solid sales figures last month reported by some local firms and on expectations of foreign capital inflows amid a strengthening New Taiwan dollar, dealers said.
They said asset-backed stocks received a boost from a media report that a Hong Kong investor has bought four sites in north Taiwan together for around NT$400 million (US$12.12 million).
The TAIEX closed up 83.51 points at 7,161.61, on turnover of NT$112.68 billion.
Risers led decliners 847 to 277, with 168 stocks unchanged.
For the week to yesterday, the weighted index closed up 74.87 points or 1.06 percent after a 0.67 percent increase the previous week.
Average daily turnover stood at NT$79.22 billion, compared with NT$81.72 billion dollars a week ago.
■ Far Eastern shares surge
Shares of Far Eastern International Bank (遠東商銀) surged by the daily limit after a news report said HSBC Holding Plc, Europe's biggest bank by market value, may buy a 60 percent stake.
HSBC may buy 60 percent of Far Eastern Bank within a year in three phases, with the first to take place by the end of this year, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported earlier Friday, without citing anyone.
Far Eastern Chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) said on Oct. 25 that the Taipei-based bank may sell a majority stake for the right price. London-based HSBC said the day before that it plans to expand in Asia through Internet banking rather than by making buyouts.
■ Reserves up NT$0.27 billion
Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves totaled NT$261.82 billion at the end of last month, up from the NT$261.55 billion at the end of September, the nation's central bank said yesterday.
The month-on-month increase mainly reflects returns from the bank's management of foreign exchange reserves, the bank said.
■ Cathay stock rating cut
Cathay Financial Holding Co's (國泰金控) stock rating, which owns Taiwan's largest life insurer, was cut to "neutral" from "outperform" by Credit Suisse Group, citing its banking arm's plans to increase bad-loan provisions.
"We expect provisions at the bank to move up again in the fourth quarter," Sherry Lin, an analyst at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong. That will "put Cathay shares under pressure."
Credit Suisse's 12-month price target for the Taipei-based company was reduced to NT$74 from NT$79.30.
Cathay Financial said on Thursday its banking unit's bad-loan provisions more than doubled in the first nine months because of non-performing credit-card debt.
■ Powerchip in joint venture talks
Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體), the nation's largest memory-chip maker, said it is in talks with Elpida Memory Inc of Japan on a possible joint investment in a factory in Taiwan.
"We are focusing on the details of building a JV in Taiwan, but there's still no decision made yet," said Powerchip spokesman Eric Tang (譚仲民). "Discussions are still continuing."
Tang's remark came after Elpida Chief executive officer Yukio Sakamoto told reporters on Thursday that tax breaks and subsidies make China the most attractive place to build a plant.
Powerchip doesn't have a timeline for deciding on a possible venture with Elpida, Tang said.
Sakamoto visited Taiwan and met with government officials in September, after saying earlier that the Tokyo-based company is looking for a suitable site to build a factory.
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