Weaker NT weighs on shares
Taiwanese shares closed 1.41 percent lower yesterday as a weaker New Taiwan dollar hit the financial sector, dealers said.
The weighted index closed down 126.56 points at 8,837.07 on turnover of NT$156.60 billion (US$5.13 billion).
Many investors were on the sidelines waiting for president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to take office on May 20 and turn his campaign promises of better relations with China into concrete initiatives, dealers said.
Frank Lin (林玉田), senior vice president with Fubon Securities Co (富邦證券), said the fall of the local currency triggered fears of capital outflows.
“There were worries over foreign investors’ stance towards the domestic market given recent declines in the local unit,” he said.
Financials and companies with big real estate holdings suffered on concerns about the impact of a weaker currency on NT dollar-denominated assets.
“Investors were eager to lock in profits after the major Taiwan dollar rally in the first four months of the year,” Lin said.
Cathay Financial Holdings (國泰金控) led the financial sector lower as its insurance unit’s embedded value growth also fell short of market expectations, dealers said.
Cathay Financial plunged NT$4.80 to NT$81.40, Chinatrust Financial (中信金) shed NT$1.15 to NT$31.35 and Shin Kong Financial (新光金) fell NT$1.55 to NT$27.35.
Strait funds hit US$209bn
Funds remitted across the Taiwan Strait in both directions via the offshore banking units (OBUs) of Taiwanese banking institutions and overseas subsidiaries totaled US$209.8 billion last year, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) reported yesterday.
The figure represents an increase of 27 percent over that posted in 2006, commission officials said.
The figures include personal remittances across the Taiwan Strait and remittances for imports and exports, they added.
Taiwan’s OBUs extended credit amounting to US$1.035 billion to Taiwanese businessmen operating in China last year, which officials said indicated that OBUs have become fund sourcing centers for China-based Taiwanese businessmen.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign exchange reserves rose 0.88 percent last month to total US$289.38 billion as local insurance companies redeemed overseas investments.
The aging workplace
The middle-aged employed population — people aged 45 to 64 — reached 3.26 million last year, an increase of 45.97 percent compared with 1997, a Council of Labor Affairs official said yesterday.
Citing council statistics, the official said last year’s figure also showed an increase of 24.87 percent over the 2002 figure.
About 63.04 percent were male employees, accounting for 2.05 million people.
However, middle-aged female employees have seen a bigger increase of 66.48 percent over the past decade, compared with 36.2 percent for males, the official said.
Most middle-aged employees were in the service industry, rising from 47.05 percent in 1997 to 56.31 percent last year.
No fuel hike for May
Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑) yesterday decided to keep fuel prices unchanged this month despite rising crude oil prices, a company statement said.
The firm said it had decided to absorb losses to be incurred this month after freezing fuel prices.
Based on the floating price mechanism, the firm said it should have hiked gas prices by NT$1 per liter and diesel prices by NT$1.1 per liter to reflect the crude oil price, which rose 7 percent to average US$103.41 per barrel.