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Silicon wafers made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) are arranged for a photograph at the company’s headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.
Donald Trump’s presidency promised a more confrontational approach toward China. While he certainly achieved that, he also helped create a winner in Taiwan’s stock market.
The Taiex benchmark surged 92% in U.S. dollar terms since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, the best performance among 93 global gauges tracked by Bloomberg and far beating the MSCI All-Country World Index’s 53%.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. accounted for almost two-thirds of the Taiex’s gains, after the chipmaking giant soared almost 300% in U.S. dollar terms. Trump’s efforts to hobble China’s plan to build a domestic chip industry has cemented Taiwan’s role as the global center for chipmaking, with TSMC at the heart. Increasing demand for smartphones and computers during the pandemic helped create a shortage of chips, benefiting TSMC further.
The outlook for TSMC, and therefore Taiwan’s stock market, looks positive, regardless of the end of Trump’s presidency. The firm last week outlined plans to pour as much as $28 billion into capital spending this year, underscoring its determination to retain its dominance. The incoming Biden administration is not expected to take a much softer line toward China.
Foreign inflows into the local stock market have posed a challenge to policy makers, who have long had a tendency to limit gains in the currency to protect the dominant export industry. While the Taiwan dollar is among the world’s best performers in the past four years, gaining almost 13%, daily moves are often erased by the end of the day. So far its strength hasn’t dented demand for Taiwan’s export orders, which are surging at the fastest pace since 2010.
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