Seoul shares down 0.22 pct on weak yen

Monday, May 20, 2013 17:25

SEOUL — South Korean stocks closed 0.22 percent lower Monday as the weak yen continued to weigh down on investors' sentiment here, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) moved down 4.38 points to finish at 1,982.43. Trading volume was low at 266.3 million shares worth 4.22 trillion won (US$3.78 billion) with losers outstripping gainers 434 to 383.

"While Wall Street gathered ground in the previous trading session on improved consumer sentiment, South Korea's stock market continued to remain under selling pressure as the weak yen continued to weigh down on the economic growth outlook," said Kang Hyun-gie, a researcher at I'M Investment & Securities Co.

U.S. stocks ended higher Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding 0.8 percent to an all-time high and the NASDAQ composite index rising 0.97 percent.

"Meanwhile, the geopolitical risk from North Korean threats had a limited impact on the stock market as such concerns already have been priced in, with foreign investors scooping up local shares," Kang added.

The North fired a short-range missile into the East Sea on Sunday, a day after shooting three short-range projectiles, presumed by Seoul to be missiles or artillery shells, off the Korean Peninsula's east coast in defiance of the international community's warnings against hostile actions.

Foreign investors purchased more shares than they sold at a net 85.2 billion won, and individuals also scooped up a net 54.4 billion won. In contrast, institutions offloaded more shares than they purchased at 140.6 billion won.

Carmakers closed bullish, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor moving up 1.28 percent to 198,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors rising 0.55 percent to 54,900 won. Top auto parts manufacturer Hyundai Mobis climbed 0.92 percent to 273,000 won.

Hankook Tire, a leading tire maker, advanced 3.12 percent to 52,800 won, and Kumho Tire climbed 2.07 percent to 12,300 won on reports that demand for their products from the European countries is anticipated to increase.

Defense shares edged up on North Korea's firing of four short-range projectiles over the weekend, with Huneed Technologies rising 2.43 percent to 3,165 won and Firstec advancing 1.24 percent to 2,035 won.

In contrast, STX Pan Ocean, an affiliate of cash-strapped STX Group, the 13th biggest conglomerate, fell 9.77 percent to 2,585 won as the main creditor Korea Development Bank decided not to take over the country's leading bulk carrier.

Tech shares also closed lower, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics falling 0.73 percent to 1,497,000 won and its local rival LG Electronics losing 1.51 percent to 84,800 won. Top flat panel manufacturer LG Display shed 0.97 percent to 30,600 won.

The local currency ended at 1,116.80 won against the greenback, down 0.40 won from Thursday's close as the United States is anticipated to reduce its quantitative easing measures on improved economic conditions, dealers said. The local financial market was closed Friday for Buddha's birthday.--Yonhap News/The Korea Herald/ANN 

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