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* Sept export orders +12.7 pct vs f'cast +3.3 pct
* Orders from China +8.6 pct y/y; U.S. orders +15.5 pct
* Europe orders +22.6 pct y/y; Japan -0.1 pct
* Govt says Oct orders to surpass Sept levels, may hit $44 bln
By J.R. Wu and Jeanny Kao
TAIPEI, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Taiwan export orders in September were nearly four times as strong as expected as global retailers raced to meet consumer demand for high-tech gadgets such as the newest iPhone from Apple Inc.
More gains are likely with October orders possibly hitting new highs, Lin Lee-jen, statistics director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, told a news conference on Monday.
The robust data underpins a rosy outlook for the island economy and its export-oriented technology companies, while indicating global demand for devices such as the iPhone 6 and its bigger-panelled 6 plus model and other smartphones remain undented by global economic uncertainties.
Taiwan's export orders, seen as a leading indicator of demand for Asia's exports and for hi-tech gadgets, typically lead actual exports by two to three months.
September's 12.7 percent jump in export orders from a year earlier pushed order levels to a monthly record of $43.31 billion, far exceeding the 3.3 percent growth estimated in a Reuters poll.
Double-digit growth in orders came from the United States and Europe, at 15.5 percent and 22.6 percent, respectively.
Orders from China, while growing at a slower 8.6 percent, also hit a record monthly high of $10.4 billion, the ministry said. The iPhone 6 went on sale in mainland China on Oct. 17.
Orders last month were led by a 19.4 percent gain in orders for electronic goods, as well as a 16.3 percent rise in orders for information and communications products.
Orders for semiconductors are reflected in the category of electronic goods. The world's top contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), has seen its business surge to record levels in the current peak season for smartphones.
Producing chips for smartphones such as the newest iPhones from Apple helped TSMC notch record net profit and 29 percent growth in overall revenue in the third quarter versus a year earlier, as well as 29 percent growth in revenue from communication devices from the second quarter.
Camera lense maker Largan Precision Co Ltd, which also makes lenses used in iPhones, saw its revenue in September jump 74 percent from a year earlier.
Lin said that full year export orders this year could rise to $460 billion, revising higher a forecast she gave just a month ago of $450 billion, which would be a record annual total.
Editing by Jacqueline Wong