Taiwan stock market stumbles on weekend fire

By Sandra Chuang, The China Post

Taiwan stock market yesterday fell on the impact of the weekend fire at a suburban Taipei office complex. The index dropped 56.27 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 5,176.45. The daily turnover shrank to the year’s low of NT$37.5 billion, compared to the NT$68.1 billion of last Friday. The market dipped 71.47 points, or 1.4 percent, at the opening after the fire at the Hsichi complex that houses more than 200 companies such as Acer, Tuntex and Wei-Chuan.

Investors’ concerns over the Hsichi fire were compounded by Friday’s plunge in the U.S. Nasdaq, leading the index lower in early trading session.

However, as government-related funds reportedly continued to buy shares in an effort to limit the actual impact of the fire, the market appeared to become stabilized and maintained above 5,000-point level for the later trading hours.

Tuntex Distinct, the owner of the office complex, shed 6.7 percent to close at NT$1.11. Technology shares generally moved downward as investors were relatively concerned by the blaze. Acer Inc., which has its headquarter in the complex, fell sharply on expected downside losses, with shares slipping 6.2 percent to close at NT$18.1. While most chip shares fell, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) were far less affected, with TSMC falling 1.6 percent to NT$92.5 and UMC shedding 1 percent to NT$52.

Financial shares also plunged on the Hsichih fire, as it damaged not only technology firms but also insurance companies.

Traditional shares mostly fell on a lack of buying incentives. Wei-Chuan Food’s shares were the worst performers of the sector over the financial losses resulting from the devastating fire.