The TAIEX yesterday shed 696.97 points, or 5.75 percent, to close at 11,421.74 on panic selling as worries over the coronavirus outbreak deepened, while Taiwanese firms with operations in China extended the Lunar New Year holiday until next month.
Yesterday’s retreat was the largest setback in a single session. It surpassed the previous record single-day drop of 660.72 points on Oct. 11, 2018, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.
That compared with a 2.62 percent decline on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, a 1.71 percent fall on South Korea’s KOSPI and a 1.72 percent dip on Japan’s Nikkei 225.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
The local benchmark’s steeper drop came as no surprise, as the local market played catch-up with its regional peers, Hua Nan Securities Investment Management Co (華南投顧) chairman David Chu (儲祥生) said.
“Compared with other Asian countries, Taiwan might be more negatively affected by the outbreak, as we are geographically near China and many Taiwanese companies have operations there,” Chu told the Taipei Times by telephone.
Turnover in the Taiwan Stock Exchange swelled to NT$275.415 billion (US$9.1 billion), a 76 percent increase on the average turnover of NT$155.6 billion in the past 30 days.
Foreign institutional investors cut their net holdings by NT$17.79 billion, while mutual funds and proprietary traders slashed their net positions by NT$2.8 billion and NT$1.65 billion respectively.
The New Taiwan dollar fell NT$0.271, or 0.9 percent, to NT$30.277 in Taipei trading yesterday.
“Local financial markets took a harder hit than their regional peers due to Taiwan’s economic links with China,” First Securities Investment Trust Co (第一金投信) said in a client note.
Shares of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the world’s leading electronics manufacturer and an iPhone assembler, plunged by 9.97 percent to NT$83.1.
The company has about 13,500 employees in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, and it announced that it would delay its production activities in China until Feb. 10.
Other Apple Inc suppliers were also affected, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) shares falling 4.95 percent to NT$316.5, Largan Precision Co (大立光) shares sinking 5.33 percent to NT$4,710 and Pegatron Corp (和碩) shares diving 7.65 percent to NT$62.8.
“The declines reflected worries that the spread of the coronavirus might be a drag on the sales of iPhones, despite Apple on Wednesday reporting better-than-expected earnings for its latest quarter,” Chu said.
Besides the technology sector, industries such as aviation and hospitality would also suffer a negative impact from the virus outbreak, Chu said, citing that shares in EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) and China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) plummeted by 9.93 percent and 9.91 percent respectively.
However, a few companies benefited from the virus outbreak, mainly suppliers of masks.
Nan Liu Enterprise Co (南六) and KNH Enterprise Co (康那香) shares rose 9.9 percent and 9.85 percent respectively.
Shares of TaiGen Biopharmaceuticals Holdings Ltd (太景), a supplier of antibiotics, and vaccine maker Adimmune Corp (國光生技) advanced more than 9 percent on investors’ expectations of new business opportunities, Chu said.
Any rebound of the TAIEX would depend on whether the spread of the virus could be controlled, along with the performance of US equity markets, Hua Nan Securities said.
Government officials sought to calm public unease by portraying the slump as “a normal response” to global market volatility over the Lunar New Year holiday.
National Development Council Deputy Minister Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂) dismissed reports that the epidemic could cut the nations’ GDP growth by 0.5 percentage points this year.
“The scenario is unlikely as government expenditure will play a key role in driving growth, making external factors less influential,” Cheng told reporters.
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