(Adds comments, details)
* Jan exports +7.0 pct y/y, rise for 4th straight month
* Shipments to China +7.6 pct, to U.S. +3.8 pct
* Taiwan says exports in Feb will increase sharply
By J.R. Wu and Faith Hung
TAIPEI, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s exports rose for a fourth straight month in January, though growth momentum slowed substantially from a peak in late 2016.
January’s exports expanded 7.0 percent on year, above the 1.39 percent gain forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll. In December, there’s was a 14 percent annual increase, a four-year high.
Demand for the island’s tech gadgets is expected to remain solid through the first quarter as the global economy recovers, although the protectionist stance of U.S. President Donald Trump points to an uncertain longer-term outlook.
“We don’t deny that amid the recovery, global uncertainties remain on the rise,” Beatrice Tsai, an official at Taiwan’s finance ministry, told a news conference on Tuesday.
“Trump’s policies are not clear yet and companies are still monitoring,” said Tsai.
The ministry said that shipments will likely pick up sharply in February, after a lull for the Lunar New Year holidays, which reduced the number of working days in January.
Taiwan is one of Asia’s major exporters, especially of technology goods, and its export trend is a key gauge of global demand for technology gadgets.
Taiwanese manufacturers reported robust increases in output, total new orders and employment in January, despite the rates of expansion easing since December, according to the Nikkei/Markit Taiwan Purchasing Managers’ Index.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world’s top contract chip maker, said last month that its revenue in the first quarter would be below the fourth quarter, though profit margins would hold steady.
Exports to China and the United States, Taiwan’s biggest destinations, rose 7.6 percent and 3.8 percent in January, respectively, the ministry said. In December, exports jumped 21.4 percent and 2 percent.
Shipments of electronic components increased 10 percent on year, while information and communications products climbed 2.6 percent, the ministry said. Exports of basic metals and their products rose 13.7 percent. (Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Richard Borsuk)