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Top-Ranked UBS Foresees Caution on Taiwan in First Quarter

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Top-Ranked UBS Foresees Caution on Taiwan in First Quarter
A general view shows containers waiting to be loaded onto cargo ships at Keelung Harbor, northern Taiwan. The worsening European debt crisis and the prospect of slowing global economic growth raised concern of a decline in Taiwanese exports. Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Investors will be cautious on Taiwanese equities in the first quarter because of Europe’s debt crisis and uncertainty over election results, said William Dong, UBS AG’s head of Taiwan equities.

Taiwan’s stocks are linked to Europe through the island’s export industry, Dong, whose bank was ranked first for Taiwan research in 2011 by Institutional Investor magazine, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. Investors will be watching the results of a Jan. 14 election to gauge the outlook for China-Taiwan relations, he said.

“It’s difficult to have a lot of surprise on the upside for the whole year,” Dong said. “The market will remain somewhat resilient, but the upside could be not as much as what some people expect.”

The benchmark Taiex Index slumped 21 percent last year, the most since 2008, as the worsening European debt crisis and the prospect of slowing global economic growth raised concern of a decline in Taiwanese exports. Orders for the island’s exports increased in November at the slowest pace in more than two years, government data on Dec. 20 showed.

Data today are expected to show European consumer confidence slumped to the lowest in more than two years in December, while retail sales in the region fell in November, according to the median forecasts in Bloomberg surveys of economists.

China Relations

Exit poll results for Taiwan’s elections will be published after voting stations close at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, who returned the ruling Kuomintang party to power in 2008 after the opposition Democratic Progressive Party had held the presidency for eight years, has campaigned on a platform endorsing closer economic relations with China. His rival, Tsai Ing-wen, says Ma’s government is too reliant on China and that the DPP wants to develop other international markets.

“The election uncertainty makes things quite challenging in the medium-short term,” UBS’ Dong said. “Everyone is really watching how will the policy shift, if any, post election. So the cross-strait policy, it’s really where everyone is focusing on.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Weiyi Lim in Singapore at wlim26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net

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