European stocks gained for the second month amid optimism earnings will rise as economies recover. Royal Philips Electronics NV, Deutsche Bank AG and Aegon NV led the advance. \n"We are seeing good signs that the recovery is starting," said Carsten Gerlinger, who oversees 800 million euros (US$796 million) at DZ International in Luxembourg and is considering buying shares in Siemens AG and Vodafone Group Plc. The Dow Jones Stoxx 50 Index may add 10 percent before the year ends, he said. \nThe index rose 3.9 percent in November and had its first back-to-back monthly gains since November-December 2001. The 15 percent advance so far this quarter is the best two-month performance since the end of 1999. \nStocks were helped this week by surveys showing a gain in confidence among French manufacturers and UK consumers. Reports that manufacturing in the Chicago area rose in November and new claims for US unemployment benefits fell last week further fueled speculation that demand for products may be rising. \nEurope's 300 biggest companies generate about a fifth of their sales in the US. \nEarlier this month, companies including Kuoni Reisen Holding AG, Switzerland's largest travel company, and ABN Amro Holding NV, the largest Dutch bank, said cost cuts helped them beat analysts' forecasts. \nPhilips, Europe's largest maker of consumer electronics, surged 22 percent in November. Deutsche Bank, the region's biggest lender, gained 14 percent and Aegon, the second-largest Dutch insurer, climbed 19 percent. \nSome investors question whether there has been enough evidence of growth to justify recent share-price gains. \nThe Stoxx 50 declined 0.5 percent to 2,661.51, led by France Telecom SA and Munich Re as analysts cut their ratings. \n"Valuations are starting to look a bit high," said Stuart O'Gorman, who helps manage US$900 million in technology stocks at Henderson Global Investors. "You need quite a strong recovery to justify some of these prices." \nO'Gorman may cut his stock holdings if the equity market rally extends into next year. \nFrance Telecom, whose shares have more than doubled this quarter, slipped 4.3 percent to 18 euros. The former French monopoly was downgraded to "underweight" from "equal-weight" by Morgan Stanley, which called the current price "unreasonable." \n Munich Re shed 3.1 percent to 140 euros as UBS Warburg cut its rating to "hold" from "buy," arguing the stock has little room to gain. The shares have advanced 32 percent since the end of September. \nNokia Oyj dropped 2.3 percent to 19.40 euros, trimming its gain this quarter to 44 percent. The shares reached a seven-month high yesterday. Analysts' profit expectations for the world's largest handset maker may be too optimistic, according to a note today from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. \nThe Stoxx technology, insurance and telecommunications indexes have each surged more than a third since the end of September. \nABB Ltd and Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA rose today on optimism asbestos-related costs may be limited, as Fresenius Medical Care AG neared an agreement to settle US claims. \nFresenius Medical, the world's leading dialysis provider, climbed 24 percent to 42.98 euros after agreeing to settle asbestos claims in the US for US$15 million. \n"This is very good news -- we'd heard talk of sums as much as a billion euros," said Michael Kapler, who helps manage 13 billion euros in investments at Trinkaus Capital Management in Dusseldorf, Germany. \nFresenius, its parent company, climbed 25 percent to 44.50 euros. \nABB added 5.3 percent to 4.97 Swiss francs. Europe's largest electrical-engineering company has offered plaintiffs US$1.1 billion to settle about 111,000 asbestos-relating claims against a US unit.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be