Taipei, Aug. 4 (CNA) Shares in Taiwan generally rose higher on Monday as gains in the steel and electronics sectors more than offset a tumble in chemical shares triggered by a series of gas explosions in Kaohsiung late last week. The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange closed up 63.68 points, or 0.69 percent, at 9,330.19 on turnover of NT$87.54 billion (US$2.92 billion). It was only the second time in the last seven trading sessions that the benchmark index finished in positive territory. The index would likely have finished higher had it not been for the chemical and plastics sectors, which fell 2.48 percent and 1.94 percent respectively, amid fears that the blasts would curtail supply of basic raw materials in the two industries. Shares of LCY Chemical Corp., which has been blamed by Kaohsiung authorities for the blasts that killed at least 28 people, opened down by the maximum 7 percent to NT$21.65 and never budged from that position the rest of the session. Several other chemical stocks, such as USI Corp., China
General Plastic Corp., Asia Polymer Corp., Taita Chemical Co., Grand Pacific Petrochemical Corp., and China
Petrochemical Development Corp., also suffered losses on supply concerns. Even the Formosa Plastics Group, which has its own material supply mechanism and was not implicated in the explosions, felt the blasts' shockwaves. Among its main subsidiaries, Formosa Plastics Corp. fell 1.96 percent to NT$75.20, Nan Ya Plastics Corp. lost 2.46 percent to close at NT$67.40, and Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corp. shed 0.41 percent to NT$72.30. The financial sub-index fell 0.30 percent amid investor concerns over potential bad debts hanging over the sector in the future. Among the day's gainers, the cement and steel sub-indexes rose 1.67 percent and 1.41 percent, respectively, in anticipation of the potential opportunities created by the need to rebuild parts of downtown Kaohsiung, which were torn apart by the powerful explosions. Electronics stocks also recorded strong gains, buoyed by anticipated back-to-school demand for electronic devices, with the sector's sub-index rising 1.66 percent. Compal Electronics surged by the maximum 7 percent to close at NT$29.40, Quanta Computer rose 4.47 percent to NT$84.10, and Wistron Corp. gained 3.87 percent to NT$29.65. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest contract chip maker, rose 2.92 percent to close at NT$123.50, while Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which assembles iPads and iPhones for Apple, gained 3.43 percent to close at NT$105.50.
(By Chang Chien-chung and Elizabeth Hsu)