Taiwan shares close off November with modest rise Friday

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan shares ended higher Friday led by technology issues, the day after the island's legislators approved a referendum law thought unlikely to provoke an angry response from China. 

The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange finished 31.20 points higher, or 0.54 percent, at 5771.77 in dealings valued at 63.9 billion New Taiwan dollars (US$1.86 billion). 

Advancers outnumbered decliners 385 to 316, while 224 issues ended the day unchanged. 

The Taiwan market ended Thursday by falling 2 percent, as lawmakers prepared to hammer out an agreement on a referendum law. 

China has warned it would see the passage of such a law as a step toward formal independence for Taiwan, which could provoke Chinese military intervention. 

China and Taiwan split at the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing maintains claims of sovereignty over the island and has threatened force if it declares independence. 

However, the version of the referendum law passed late Thursday, after it was watered down by the opposition-dominated parliament, was seen as less likely to provoke a reaction from China. 

Technology shares led Friday's rebound, with the subindex up 0.6 percent, but poor overall investor sentiment acted as a drag on the market after the index touched an intraday high of 5836.09. 

Contract chip maker United Microelectronics regained most of its losses Thursday to close up 2 percent at NT$30, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing ended 0.8 percent higher at NT$63.50. 

The financial subindex, which has been outperforming the rest of the market in recent months, fell 0.1 percent.  

SinoPac Holdings was one of the few gainers, closing 1.1 percent higher at NT$18.50. 

Traders were mixed about the market's outlook for December. Some argued it was time to buy into next year's improved economic prospects now that the referendum issue appeared to have passed without precipitating a crisis. 

"Now we can look forward to buying into next year's story in December,'' said Primasia Securities analyst George Wu. 

Others, however, said the market had run out of steam. 

Jeff Kao, an equity analyst at Allianz Dresdner Asset Management, said the market lacked the leads to sustain upward momentum. 

"It's basically a conservative market at the moment,'' he said. - AP 

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