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Stocks

Quake-hit tech stocks sink

TAIPEI -- Shares of several major Taiwanese technology companies fell on Monday, the first trading day after the extended Chinese New Year break, with their production sites in Tainan Science Park affected by the massive earthquake in the south on Feb. 6.

     Taiwan's benchmark Taiex index opened more than 1% lower but bounced back to close marginally higher at 8,066.51, bucking the recent slump in global markets, as speculation mounted that the government was propping up the local bourse.

     Innolux, Taiwan's largest panel maker, fell 2.79% to 9.07 New Taiwan dollars ($27.4 cents). The company said on Sunday that revenue for February would be the lowest in the current quarter and that some parts of production facilities had yet to return to normal.

     Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's biggest contract chipmaker, slipped 0.68% to NT$145. The industry leader accounting for 54% of the global foundry market share predicted an impact of slightly more than 1% on its total wafer shipments for the current quarter, revising its initial forecast of less than 1%. All production lines resumed operation within a week. Wafers are round, thin slices of silicon on which integrated circuits, or chips, are manufactured.

     That 1% impact would equal a loss of around NT$3 billion, according to Carlos Peng, an analyst at Fubon Securities.

     On Monday, TSMC posted revenue of NT$70.85 billion for January, a decline of 18.7% from a year earlier. Its projected revenue of NT$198 billion to NT$201 billion for the three months ending March, down from NT$222.03 billion in the same period last year, remained unchanged.

     United Microelectronics Corp., a smaller rival to TSMC, closed 2.33% higher at NT$13.20 as production lines resumed operations three days after the temblor.

     According to IC Insights, however, more than 58% of global chip manufacturing capacity is under high risk from seismic activity.

     Catcher Technology, the key metal casing supplier for Apple whose headquarters is in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, said the earthquake did not damage its facilities. But its shares still fell 2.32% to NT$232.

     "We see limited impact on the local electronic supply chain regarding its capacities this time compared with the tremendously destructive quakes back in 1999," said Chien Bor-yi, an analyst at Cathay Securities.

     Some companies seen benefiting from post-quake construction saw their shares climb. China Steel and Taiwan Cement rose 2.22% and 1.69% to NT$18.40 and NT$27.05, respectively, as rebuilding might drive short-term demand, according to Cathay's Chien.

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