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UPDATE 2-Weak Taiwan October export orders may spur fresh growth worries

* Oct orders +0.3 pct y/y, compared with poll's +3.35 pct

* Many worry that Trump policies could hurt island's exports

* Contraction in U.S. Oct orders 'worrisome' - analyst

* U.S. orders -1.3 pct y/y, China +7.4 pct, Japan -13.1 pct

* Orders for high-end notebooks cause of weak data - ministry (Adds comments from government official, analyst)

By Liang-Sa Loh and J.R. Wu

TAIPEI, Nov 21 Taiwan's export orders grew much less than expected in October, clouding hopes that the island's economy can get a boost from seasonal holiday demand before Donald Trump becomes U.S. president.

In October, orders increased 0.3 percent from a year earlier, well below a Reuters poll expectation for a 3.35 percent gain and September's 3.9 percent annual growth.

Economists had been upbeat that demand for Apple Inc's new iPhone 7 models, which the U.S. giant said have been in short supply, would be able to drive export-related activity for the final months of 2016.

But with orders barely growing last month - and those from the U.S. contracting - concerns will remain that growth prospects for Taiwan's trade-dependent economy are tepid.

Orders from the U.S. shrank 1.3 percent, compared with September's nearly 13 percent jump.

The October contraction is "worrisome", said Anita Hsu, analyst with Masterlink Investment Advisory in Taipei. "The concern is about lack of support (for export activity) after shipments of new Apple products finish."

Orders related to mobile phones were in "peak season" in October, but the replacement ones for "high-end notebooks" were slower, which weighed on overall orders, the economics ministry said in a statement on Monday, without elaborating.

October exports totalled $42.7 billion. L.J. Lin, a ministry official, told a briefing November ones could be between $41.8 billion and $42.8 billion.

She said that orders for the full year 2016 are likely to contract from 2015.

Taiwan's export orders are seen as a leading indicator for Asia's exports and reflect shipment activity 2-3 months ahead. Traditionally, exports are bigger in the second half of the year due to new product launches before Christmas.

Orders from China rose 7.4 percent from a year ago, twice the gain seen for September.

For electronics goods, orders rose 5.6 percent last month from a year ago, while those for information and communications goods were up just 0.9 percent.

GROWTH SHOCK AHEAD?

October's disappointing result comes amid uncertainty over Asia's trade outlook when Trump takes office as U.S. president in January.

Taiwan's economy is one in Asia that could see a "significant growth shock" if U.S. companies delay foreign investment plans, according to Credit Suisse.

Expectations for a more hostile trade policy from Trump could also hit Asian processing exports to China if the new U.S. government launches more anti-dumping cases against Beijing, it said in a report this month.

"But at this stage it is hard to quantify this effect," Credit Suisse said.

Weak exports have dented Taiwan's economic performance. The government currently forecasts the economy to grow 1.22 percent this year, compared with 0.65 percent in 2015.

Much of Taiwan's export orders are processed through manufacturing plants in China operated by Taiwanese tech companies.

"If these (Taiwanese factories) had to move to the U.S., it would be a very big engineering effort and construction costs are high," said Lin of the economics ministry.

However, she also said building new factories could be a positive for Taiwan's machinery industry. (Additional reporting by Emily Chan; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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