TAIPEI–The government’s plan to consolidate state-invested banks continued to boost the performance of financial stocks in Taiwan on Monday, helping the market’s benchmark index close nearly a percent higher, dealers said. The U.S. dollar rose against the Taiwan dollar Monday, gaining NT$0.03 to close at the day’s high of NT$29.675. Turnover totaled US$590 million during the trading session. The greenback opened at NT$29.645 and moved to a low of NT$29.535 before rebounding. Financial shares benefited from media reports about possible mergers among state-invested banks, said Chang Shih-tun, an assistant manager at Da Chang Securities Co. An interim deal reached over the weekend on limiting Iran’s nuclear program and removing some of the sanctions strangling the country’s economy was positive news for transportation sector shares, he said. But upward momentum was limited by weak turnover as some investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the upcoming half-year adjustment of the constituents of MSCI indexes on Tuesday and the settlement of MSCI Taiwan Index futures contracts on Thursday. The weighted index closed up 70.73 points, or 0.87 percent, at 8,187.51 on turnover of NT$65.87 billion (US$2.23 billion), after moving between 8,182.90 and 8,217.62. Chang Hwa Bank (彰銀) jumped by the daily maximum 7 percent after the market opened on an Economic Daily News report that it was the Ministry of Finance’s top candidate to be merged in an ongoing study on consolidating banks in which the government holds a stake. State-invested First Financial Holding Co. (第一金控) and Huanan Financial Holdings Co. (華南金控) gained 1.42 percent and 2.37 percent, respectively, to NT$17.85 and NT$17.25.
The transportation sub-index closed 2.01 percent higher, as the price of Brent crude for January settlement dropped over 2 percent Monday on the Iran nuclear deal. Regional carrier TransAsia Airways (復興航空) surged by the daily 7 percent maximum to end at NT$13.25, while Taiwan’s second largest airline EVA Air (長榮航空) closed 3.70 percent higher at NT16.80.