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INSTANT VIEW 2-Taiwan exports return to growth on year-end demand

Monday, 8 Oct 2012 | 4:33 AM ET

TAIPEI, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Taiwan's exports recorded their first growth after six straight months of declines in September, buoyed by demand for new electronics products ahead of the year-end shopping season, with the key U.S. and China markets returning to growth.

The positive turn was in line with the central bank's recent assessment of strong overseas sales in early September and a slight recovery overall in the second half, and that of the finance ministry which had said that, in value terms, exports could return to growth in September.

The island's economics ministry said last month industrial output, which is closely tied to exports, would be positive again in September.

Year-end demand for electronics goods including computers and flat panels helped growth in September, offsetting weakness in smartphones, the finance ministry said on Monday. It added that it saw a steady recovery in exports in the fourth quarter.

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KEY POINTS:

Exports +10.4 pct y/y (forecast median +3.6 pct, range -4.2 pct to +9.7 pct; prior month -4.2 pct)

Imports +1.3 pct y/y (forecast median +0.33 pct, prior month -7.6 pct)

Trade surplus $4.08 billion (forecast median surplus $2.345 bln, prior month surplus $3.31 bln)

Exports to China +6 pct (prior month -5.7 pct)

Exports to the U.S. +2.7 pct (prior month -8.4 pct)

Exports to Europe -10.5 pct (prior month -17.4 pct)

COMMENTARY:

AIDAN WANG, ECONOMIST, YUANTA SECURITIES (TAIPEI)

"The September exports figure was better than we expected, reflecting the peak season in Q4. Seasonal demand seems not to have been affected, and after the launch of iPhone 5 and with improving confidence in Europe, we may see five months of strong demand coming until the lunar new year, and Taiwan could return to its normal momentum.

"With the new leadership in China, consumption and capital expenditure will continue and there may be a pickup in exports to China from Q2 next year, leading to a bottoming out for Taiwan."

FOREST CHEN, ANALYST, TA CHONG BANK (TAIPEI)

"Export value reached $25 billion, better than expected, as shipments for electronics components for gadgets such as the iPhone have gone up. The growth was mainly due to seasonality and a low base last year.

"But as it's mainly caused by a low base effect, the figure doesn't indicate an economic recovery. We forecast exports in Q4 to grow 5.1 pct, versus a fall of 4.3 pct in Q3, also due to a low base."

MARKET REACTION:

The data came out after the close of Taiwan's stock market. The main TAIEX share index

closed down 0.97 percent

. The Taiwan dollar

ended at T$29.402 to the U.S. dollar, slightly weaker on the day.

The markets rarely react to the data, though especially good or bad figures can sometimes move share prices of top exporters.

LINKS:

-- For the full data, see the Taiwan finance ministry's website at

.

-- For all Taiwan news and data, 3000 Xtra users can click on

or . BACKGROUND:

-- Taiwan cut its 2012 GDP forecast for the eighth time in a year in August to 1.66 percent

due to weak exports.

-- Taiwan is one of the most open of Asia's exporters, with an exports-to-gross domestic product ratio of 74 percent, and almost half of Taiwan's exports are of electronics, making it extra-vulnerable to declines in external demand.

-- Fellow technology exporter South Korea reported a fall in exports in September, though not by as much as forecast.

(Taipei bureau)

((jonathan.standing@thomsonreuters.com)(+886 2 2500 4881)(Reuters Messaging: jonathan.standing.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))

Keywords: TAIWAN ECONOMY/EXPORTS