Local shares on Friday recouped part of their earlier losses to end moderately lower as contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) recovered from an early low by the end of trading, dealers said.
Amid rising fears over an interest rate hike cycle in the US, the local equity market was in consolidation mode and market sentiment turned cautious ahead of the release of US jobs data for last month later in the day, they said.
The TAIEX on Friday closed down 34.02 points, or 0.3 percent, at 11,126.23, after moving between 11,070.43 and 11,153.32, on turnover of NT$119.61 billion (US$4.1 billion).
That was a decrease of 0.2 percent from a close of 11,147.10 on Jan. 26.
The market opened down 8.6 points after a choppy session on Wall Street, reflecting an increase in 10-year US Treasury yields, which raised concerns about higher interest rates in the year, dealers said.
Selling continued with TSMC, the most heavily weighted stock on the local market, pushing the broader market closer to the nearest technical support at the 20-day moving average of 11,058 points, before bargain hunting emerged to offset the downward pressure by the end of the session, they said.
“With the 10-year Treasuries yield on the rise, market sentiment has been impacted, with more and more investors fearing higher interest rates will drain funds from Wall Street down the road,” Concord Securities Co (康和證券) analyst Kerry Huang said.
“TSMC, again, became the victim of such a negative lead, but it benefited from bargain hunting in the late trading session,” Huang said. “I think the technical support around the 20-day moving average remains strong.”
TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, closed unchanged at NT$259.50 after hitting a low of NT$255, with 25.68 million shares changing hands.
Also in the semiconductor sector, which ended up 0.03 percent, shares in IC designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科) fell 0.81 percent to close at NT$304.50 after investors locked in gains built in the previous session, while IC packaging and testing firm Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (日月光半導體) rose 2.58 percent to end at NT$41.70 in the wake of its strong bottom line last year.
Select Apple concept stocks reacted positively to Apple Inc’s better-than-expected earnings for last year’s October-to-December period that were announced overnight and boosted Apple shares by 3 percent in after-hours trading.
Among them, shares in iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), second to TSMC in terms of market capitalization, rose 1.82 percent to close at NT$95.20, and Catcher Technology Co (可成科技), a metal casing supplier to Apple, gained 6 percent to end at NT$353.50.
“Today’s turnover fell to some extent from the earlier session as more investors became hesitant about trading with the Lunar New Year holiday approaching,” Huang said. “So non-high-tech stocks generally remained sluggish throughout the session.”
In the old economy sector, shares in Formosa Plastics Corp (台灣塑膠) shed 2.91 percent to close at NT$100 and Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp (台塑化纖) lost 3.17 percent to end at NT$107.
“I think low turnover like this will continue until the holiday and consolidation mode also could continue,” Huang said.
Foreign institutional investors sold a net NT$440.38 million of shares on the main board, the Taiwan Stock Exchange said.
Other Asian markets swung on Friday, with some recovering from early losses, but traders remained on edge over the rise in Treasury yields to four-year highs, while fresh US political turmoil is also causing unease.
Equity traders around the world have been firing on all cylinders in recent months, sending markets to record or multiyear highs, on confidence in the global economy, healthy earnings and optimism over US President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.
That improvement has also led central banks to temper their crisis-era stimulus measures, which has led to a rise in bond yields, including the key US Treasuries market.
The price of benchmark 10-year Treasury bills is at levels not seen since April 2014, sparking fears that an increase in interest rates will hit economic growth and divert money from equities.
With the US Federal Reserve already in the midst of a rate-raising cycle — it is tipped to hike at least three times this year — there is increasing concern about the impact on world markets.
“The performance of the bond market has got to be beginning to flash red to equities,” Penn Mutual Asset Management chief investment officer Mark Heppenstall said. “It seems we’re reaching a critical level on interest rates that could throw some cold water on the party in the equity market.”
Geoff Lewis, Hong Kong-based senior strategist for Asia at Manulife Asset Management, told Bloomberg Television: “If we see a sharp move up, that would be a negative shock for the equity markets.”
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 on Friday shed 211.58 points, or 0.9 percent, to end at 23,274.53, a decrease of 1.5 percent from a close of 23,631.88 on Jan. 26.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which last month chalked up a series of records, on Friday finished down 0.1 percent at 32,601.78, falling 1.7 percent from 33,154.12 a week earlier.
Singapore shed 0.2 percent and Seoul dived 1.7 percent.
However, the Shanghai Composite on Friday closed up 0.4 percent at 3,462.08, but fell 2.7 percent from a close of 3,558.13 on Jan. 26.
Sydney rose 0.5 percent and Wellington gained 0.4 percent, while Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta were also higher.
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