The Taiwan stock market on Wednesday snapped the modest two-day losing streak that had cost it nearly 300 points or 6 percent in the process. The Stock Exchange of Taiwan regained support at 5,600 points, and now analysts say the market could add to those gains at the opening of trade on Thursday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets is generally upbeat, despite weak GDP numbers out of the United States. Financial stocks also could be in focus following a shakeup at the top of Bank of America. The European markets finished sharply higher, as did the U.S. markets - and the Asian bourses are predicted to follow that lead.
The TSE finished slightly higher on Wednesday, powered by gains among the food, financial, plastic, construction and paper sectors - although the gains were limited by declines among the textile, cement and technology shares.
For the day, the index was up 17.33 points or 0.31 percent to close at 5,614.06 after trading between 5,649.24 and 5,571.93. Volume was 5.28 billion shares worth 112.49 billion Taiwan dollars. There were 1,330 gainers and 784 decliners, with 140 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the gainers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co rose 1.18 percent and United Microelectronics Corp. was 3.57 percent higher.
Wall Street offers a positive lead as stocks turned in a strong performance over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, with the major averages more than offsetting the losses posted in the two previous sessions. The strength in the markets came as investors shrugged off some weak GDP results and mulled over remarks from the Federal Reserve.
Before the opening bell, the Commerce Department released a report showing that GDP decreased at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the first quarter, better than the 6.3 percent drop in the previous quarter, but considerably worse than the 4.7 percent decline economists had anticipated. A steep drop in private inventories played a big part in the sharper than expected contraction in GDP, however, with the drop in inventories subtracting 2.8 percentage points from first quarter GDP.
The substantial decline in inventories helped to offset a rebound in consumer spending, which rose by a bigger than expected 2.2 percent in the first quarter after falling by 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter and 3.8 percent in the third quarter.
Traders also kept a close eye on the Federal Reserve, which announced its latest decision on interest rates following a two-day monetary policy meeting. As expected, the Fed left its target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 0.25 percent and reiterated that it expects that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.
The Fed's accompany statement was largely unchanged from the statement issued following its March meeting, although it did acknowledge that the pace of contraction in economic activity appears to be somewhat slower.
On the corporate front, Bank of America (BAC) was on investors' minds during the session as Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Lewis faced severe shareholder anger at the bank's annual meeting. After the bell, Lewis was removed as chairman but retained the title of CEO.
The major averages moved off their best levels of the day going into the close but remained firmly positive. The Dow closed up 168.79 points or 2.1 percent at 8,185.73, the NASDAQ closed up 38.13 points or 2.3 percent at 1,711.94 and the S&P 500 closed up 18.48 points or 2.2 percent at 873.64. With the upward moves, the NASDAQ ended the session at its best closing level in nearly six months, while the Dow set a more than two-month closing high and the S&P 500 set a three-month closing high.
In corporate news, Hon Hai Electronics saw first-quarter net profit slip 17.4 percent, the company said on Thursday, standing at 13.3 billion Taiwan dollars. This was still better than market expectations for a 9.49 billion Taiwan dollar profit, but worse than the 16.1 billion Taiwan dollar profit recorded a year ago.
Also, Chunghwa Telecom saw first-quarter net income rise 0.7 percent year-on-year, the company said on Wednesday, standing at 10.8 billion Taiwan dollars or 1.11 Taiwan dollar earnings per share. Revenue fell 3.6 percent to 49.1 billion Taiwan dollars from a year earlier. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization fell 10.7 percent to 23.4 billion Taiwan dollars.
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