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UPDATE 2-Taiwan exports fall in September, but iPhone 7 demand could spur rebound

* Sept exports -1.8 pct y/y, poll expected +3.2 pct

* 'No need to worry' - finance ministry official

* Shipments to China +6.2 pct y/y, to US -5.2 pct

* Exports seen rising in Oct, aided by iPhone 7 demand - analyst

* Central bank seen leaving rate unchanged in December (Adds analyst comment, details)

By Liang-Sa Loh and Faith Hung

TAIPEI, Oct 7 Taiwan's exports in September unexpectedly fell, but those of electronic components grew well as the Christmas shopping season nears and there's optimism shipments during October will increase.

The drop is seen as a little bump, as most analysts feel the island's economy has stabilized and its central bank - which earlier cut interest rates four times - will again hold them steady at its next policy meeting in December.

Exports, which increased the two previous months, in September contracted 1.8 percent from a year earlier, the finance ministry said on Friday. A Reuters poll forecast a 3.2 percent expansion.

The government didn't show concern over September's drop, attributed in part to Typhoon Megi, which basically shut down for two days last month.

"Despite disruption by the typhoon, electronics components continued to show growth," ministry official Beatrice Tsai told a briefing. "It is only temporary. There is no need to worry about it too much."

The ministry said it expects trade performance to pick up in the fourth quarter.

Taiwan is one of Asia's major exporters, especially of high-tech goods, and its export trend is a key gauge of global demand for technology gadgets.

Exports of electronic components, including semiconductors, rose 16.8 percent in September from a year earlier, the ministry said. The only other products showing growth were information, communications and visual and audio ones, up 0.6 percent.

BIG CONTRIBUTION

Apple Inc.'s launch of the iPhone 7 will benefit Taiwan's component suppliers for a time, some analysts said.

"iPhone 7 made a big contribution to September export, and that will continue into October," said Kevin Wang at Taishin Securities Investment Advisory.

The island's export orders, a gauge of export shipments in two-three months' time, in August got a boost from iPhone 7 and other tech products. Orders expanded for the first time in 17 months, and by 8.3 percent compared with the near 1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), an Apple supplier and the world's largest contract chip maker, said on Friday its September sales jumped nearly 40 percent from a year earlier.

Exports to China rose 6.2 percent year on year, but fell 5.2 percent to the United States, the ministry said. They are Taiwan's top two destinations.

Shipments to Europe dropped 11 percent, and those to Japan dipped 1.4 percent

Imports rose 0.7 percent, after slipping 0.8 percent in August. The poll had forecast an 8.3 percent gain. (Reporting by Faith Hung and Loh Liang-sa; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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