Taiwan Stocks lose over 500 points in Saturday trading

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Saturday, April 15, 2000

Wall Street woes take toll on Taiwan stocks

TAIPEI, April 15 (Reuters) - Taiwan, one of the few stock markets to trade since Friday's savage declines on Wall Street, took a severe beating on Saturday as nervous investors joined in a frenzied sell-off.

Analysts said Taiwan's fundamentals remain strong, but its hypersensitive stock market would fall further next week if woes on Wall Street deepened.

In one of the most dramatic slides in history, Wall Street's three major stock indices logged their biggest one-day point declines on Friday.

The TAIEX index shed 507.81 points, or 5.42 percent, to close at 8,866.80 from Friday's 9,374.61 finish. The benchmark index has fallen 12.44 percent over the last five sessions since ending at 10,127.48 on April 10. The over-the-counter market also tumbled five percent to 282.68.

"It's not an over-reaction but a natural response," said Jardine Fleming vice president George Hou.

"Taiwan is not a closed market. What happened in the United States has a direct impact on our market. Technology stocks, in particular, felt most of the heat," Hou said.

Saturday's decline was the heaviest since March 13 when it posted the biggest single-day point drop of 617.65 on fears of heightening tensions with political rival China, a week before Taiwan's presidential election.

Technology stocks -- the darlings of foreign funds -- were hit hardest, with many issues locked seven percent lower at the daily trading limit for most of the session.

World microchip foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the bluest of Taiwan blue chips, was down T$10 (US$0.33), or 5.37 percent, at T$176 after minor bargain hunting helped lift the stock from limit-down.

United Microelectronics Corp (UMC), the world's second largest made-to-order chipmaker after TSMC, was limit-down at T$95.5 and volume of 112 million shares made it the second most active stock. While the "new economy" stocks were in retreat, the "old economy" failed to offer any support. Financials, second only to electronics in TAIEX weighting, slid 5.35 percent. Plastics, textiles, and construction all fell more than five percent.


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), April 15, 2000

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