Taipei--Taiwan shares took a beating in the mid-morning session Friday amid rising fears over geopolitical tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria, dealers said.
However, smartphone brand HTC Corp. (???) appeared resilient as buying was sparked by an improvement in its sales for March after the the launch of its latest flagship model, the HTC U Ultra, dealers said.
As of 11:07 a.m., the weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange had dropped 64.74 points, or 0.65 percent, to 9,833.06 on turnover of NT56.47 billion (US$1.85 billion).
Shares of HTC, however, had climbed 1.39 percent to NT$80.80 with 12.12 million shares changing hands.
"The air strike by the U.S. against Syria prompted a downbeat outlook toward geopolitics, which could affect the domestic economy as crude oil prices have jumped since the attack," MasterLink Securities analyst Tom Tang said.
Earlier in the day, Trump ordered a cruise missile attack against a Syrian air base controlled by President Bashar al-Assad's forces, in response to a deadly chemical attack in a rebel-held area.
After the news of the air strike broke, crude oil prices soared almost 2 percent on the U.S. market at one point, while stocks futures dropped 0.5 percent on Wall Street as equity investors were scared away by the military action.
In view of the movement of the U.S. market, it was not surprising that equities in Taiwan trended lower Friday morning, Tang said.
"As the weighted index moved closer to the critical 10,000 point mark, however, many investors were also cautious so they seized the air strike against Syria as a reason to take profit," he said.
Despite this, the selling in the local equity market was not intolerable, he said.
"As long as foreign institutional investors stay in the local market, I think the weighted index will gain strong technical support at around 9,700 points in the short term," Tang said.
The silver lining was that HTC shares appeared resilient after the company reported a more than 10 percent monthly increase in sales for March following the launch of its U Ultra flagship model.
In a statement Thursday, HTC posted NT$5.2 billion in consolidated sales for March, up 11.4 percent from a month earlier, recording its first monthly revenue of more than NT$5 billion so far this year. The March figure was also 23.8 percent higher than a year earlier.
In the first three months of this year, HTC consolidated sales were NT$14.53 billion, down about 2 percent year-on-year.
Market analysts said HTC's sales growth in March could help trim its first-quarter losses.
"HTC had been a laggard in the local equity market," Tang said. "But many investors saw its March sales report as a positive lead and took advantage of its relatively low valuation."
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel