SEOUL Asian chip shares led by Hynix Semiconductor (000660.KS) and Elpida Memory 6665.T rose more than 2 percent on Wednesday, after a strong earnings forecast from Intel INTC.0 raised hopes that the technology sector could end 2010 on a high note.
The upbeat fourth-quarter sales and margins forecast from Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, set a positive tone after Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) last week gave disappointing earnings estimates for the third quarter.
"It is not that Intel's results and outlook were great, but they were modestly better than the market's already lowered expectations," said Dongbu Securities analyst Lee Min-hee.
"It is such relief that it is lifting technology stocks. The PC market has been showing signs of improvement since September, and key memory chip prices are expected to stabilize by the end of this year."
Shares in South Korea's Hynix, the world's No.2 memory chipmaker, rose 2.4 percent and Elpida in Japan gained 1.8 percent. Sector leader Samsung Electronics rose 0.7 percent.
Elpida was also buoyed by a newspaper report that it will jointly develop next-generation chips with Sharp Corp (6753.T) in 2013.
Other tech shares also gained, with flat-screen maker LG Display (034220.KS) up 2.3 percent, parts maker TDK Corp (6762.T) up 1.6 percent and chip gear maker Tokyo Electron (8035.T) up 2 percent.
But sentiment remains fragile as a weak global economy is hitting consumer spending hard, cutting computer sales growth, although solid demand from emerging markets and corporations kept Intel upbeat for the December quarter.
Samsung said on Tuesday that prices of dynamic random access memory (DRAM), mainly used in computers, will continue to fall before gradually recovering from the mid-second quarter in 2011.
Concerns of a prolonged weakness in chip prices have pushed Hynix and Samsung down 10 percent and 16 percent respectively over the past six months, lagging a 10 percent gain in the wider South Korean market.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Additional reporting by Jungyoun Park in SEOUL and Isabel Reynolds in TOKYO; Editing by Ken Wills and Dhara Ranasinghe)