December 9, 2013 / 10:10 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Taiwan's weak Nov exports drag on economic outlook

* Nov exports +0.0 pct y/y vs +2.67 pct Reuters poll f’cast

* Exports to U.S. down 0.7 pct, y/y, to China up 6.5 pct

* Technology products see clear decline - government

By Roger Tung and Michael Gold

TAIPEI, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s exports posted no growth in November, constrained by weak demand in key markets ahead of the Christmas season that will likely drag on growth in the final quarter of the year.

The government cut its full-year growth outlook in late November, the second time it did so in three months, reflecting weak prospects for the island’s pivotal high-tech goods. Slowing growth in its biggest export market, China, is also set to restrain demand next year. ( )

Taiwan’s flat annual growth in exports in November compared with a median growth forecast of 2.67 percent in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts, and was below all estimates.

In October, exports registered a 1.48 percent dip, in the wake of a sharper slide in September of 7 percent.

Exports to China, Taiwan’s largest market, rose by 6.5 percent from a year earlier, while those to the United States shrunk by 0.7 percent, data from the Ministry of Finance showed on Monday. Exports to Europe fell 1.6 percent, and dropped 7.6 percent to Japan.

“Chinese New Year demand and relative stabilisation in the E.U. and U.S. economies should be positive factors for exports looking ahead,” the ministry said in a statement. The Lunar New Year falls in late January next year.

Taiwan’s imports in November decreased by 0.5 percent year-on-year, bringing the trade balance to $3.51 billion from $3.52 billion in October.

Foreign trade is a crucial metric for measuring the strength of the Taiwanese economy and is a bellwether of global demand due to its key position in the electronics supply chain. The government recently revised down its reading of third-quarter GDP growth to 1.74 percent from 2.31 percent, citing weak export performance. ( )

While actual exports have been sluggish, reflecting the impact of manufacturing moving offshore, export orders have shown signs of resilience. Analysts do not expect any major change to policy at a late December policy meeting.

“The Taiwanese central bank is known for taking a very disciplined approach and waiting things out. I see them as expecting a rebound in exports coming up but we haven’t seen this kind of slow patch since the late-90s or even earlier,” said economist Tim Condon with ING in Singapore.

“I don’t think they’ll adopt a more accommodative stance at their next meeting but it’s getting harder to ignore the fact that we’ve had no export growth for 2 years now.”

Taiwan’s tech industry, the main driver of the island’s export machine, has been facing upheaval from changing consumer tastes worldwide and the commoditisation of formerly high-growth smartphones and tablets.

Once-ascendant Taiwanese smartphone brand HTC Corp , a notable casualty of this shift, last week posted its 25th consecutive month of declining year-on-year sales. ( )

Compal Electronics Inc, however, the world’s second-largest contract manufacturer of laptop computers, earlier on Monday reported a 3.8 percent year-on-year increase in November sales. ( ) (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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