중앙데일리

Truckers strike takes a toll on the market

June 18,2008
Korean stocks closed lower yesterday as investor sentiment was hurt by jitters over global inflation due to soaring oil prices and the continued strike by Korea’s independent truckers’ union, analysts said.

The benchmark Kospi fell 10.11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,750.71.

“The Seoul bourse was somewhat volatile. Investor sentiment was dented by the five-day strike by truckers and lingering concerns over rising inflation,” said Lee Sun-yup, an analyst at Goodmorning Shinhan Securities. Lee added that amid uncertainty over oil prices, the market may find it difficult to stage a meaningful rebound.

On Monday, Korea’s construction workers joined a strike by truckers over fuel costs, dealing a further blow to President Lee Myung-bak, whose popularity fell below 20 percent since winning a landslide victory in December.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korea’s umbrella labor union, vowed earlier in the day to stage a strike next month to protest government policies, including a controversial April deal to resume imports of U.S. beef almost without restriction.

Tech blue chips lost momentum, with industry leader Samsung Electronics declining 0.4 percent to 688,000 won ($672). Its consumer electronics and mobile phone rival LG Electronics retreated 1.1 percent, and chip maker Hynix Semiconductor lost 2.2 percent.

Construction shares lost ground mainly on the news that construction workers had joined the strike. No. 1 builder Daewoo Engineering and Construction fell 3.4 percent and its smaller rival Hyundai Engineering and Construction shed 5.1 percent.

But financial shares traded in positive territory on speculation that the worst phase of the U.S. subprime mortgage rout may have passed.

Leading financial services company Woori Finance Holdings advanced 2.2 percent. Top lender Kookmin Bank remained unchanged and Shinhan Finance Holdings picked up 0.8 percent.

Top steelmaker Posco advanced 0.4 percent and the country’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor gained 0.3 percent.

Volume was moderate at 330.5 million shares worth 4.8 trillion won, with losers outpacing gainers, 518 to 283.

Yonhap


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