Geopolitical tensions rattle the market
The Korean markets tumbled on Monday as rising geopolitical tension on the Korean Peninsula continued to worsen investor sentiment.
The benchmark index, the Kospi, closed at 2,133.32, down 18.41 points or 0.86 percent from the previous trading day. Analysts partly attributed Monday’s decline to heightened worries about the security situation in Korea and expectations that Pyongyang might stage another nuclear test soon. On Monday, the South Korean military confirmed the United States was sending a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and battle group to waters near the Korean Peninsula to respond to North Korean provocations.
Investor sentiment was also limited by the U.S. military strike in Syria, which could have adverse impacts on the U.S. stock market down the road.
“The decline in the U.S. stock market, sparked by lackluster job figures and concerns over Washington’s strike on Syria, gave impact [on the Korean stock market],” said Kim Byong-yon, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.
Foreign and institutional investors each sold local shares worth 54.0 billion won ($47.3 million) and 4.3 billion won on Monday, while retail investors scooped up 6.4 billion won.
By sector, securities and banking fell 2.2 percent each, and transportation went down 2.1 percent.
Although most large-cap shares in the index were in the negative terrain, market bellwether Samsung Electronics still managed to close higher, up 0.82 percent to 2,097,000 won on Monday. Auto giant Hyundai Motor rose 1.04 percent to close at 146,000 won.
The secondary Kosdaq snapped a three-day rally and dropped 13.91 points, or 2.20 percent, to close at 619.41 on Monday.
Celltrion, a pharmaceutical company, shrank 1.66 percent to 88,600 won, and Kakao, operator of Korea’s top messaging app, lost 1.96 percent to end at 84,900 won.
The local currency closed at 1,142.20 won against the U.S. dollar, down 7.7 won from the previous trading session.
The yield on three-year government bonds rose four basis points to 1.72 percent, and returns on 10-year bonds gained six basis points to close at 2.25 percent.
BY CHOI HYUNG-JO, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]