Shares lower on rising political tension
Korean stocks closed lower Friday as investors sought safer assets amid the tension surrounding the Korean peninsula, analysts said. The won fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Kospi dropped 13.73 points, or 0.64 percent, to close at 2,134.88. Trade volume was slim at 343 million shares worth 3.31 trillion won ($2.9 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 592 to 207.
The Korean market has been dogged by speculation that Pyongyang may stage another nuclear or missile test soon.
“The market fell at a steeper pace on the remark made by Pyongyang which hinted that a nuke test can take place at any time,” said Lee Kyung-min, a researcher at Daishin Securities.
Foreign investors offloaded a net 75.8 billion won in local stocks, while institutions scooped up a net 44.8 billion won. Individuals bought a net 21.8 billion won.
Tech shares closed bearish, with behemoth Samsung Electronics falling 0.94 percent to 2,101,000 won. LG Electronics and LG Display shed 1.73 percent and 1.29 percent, respectively, to 68,300 won and 30,500 won.
Mobile carriers also closed lower, with No. 1 player SK Telecom falling 0.81 percent to hit 243,500 won and KT remaining unchanged at 31,400 won. LG U+ moved down 0.35 percent to 14,250 won.
Brokerage stocks also ended lower, with top player Mirae Asset Daewoo falling 0.12 percent to 8,650 won and NH Investment & Securities plunging 2.44 percent to 12,000 won. Samsung Securities lost 1.05 percent to hit 33,050 won.
Steelmakers closed mixed, with industry leader Posco advancing 0.19 percent to 265,500 won and Korea Zinc losing 0.36 percent to 412,000 won. Hyundai Steel moved up 1.5 percent to 54,300 won.
The secondary Kosdaq closed down 5.63 points, or 0.9 percent from the previous session to close at 618.24. Sell-offs from retail and foreign investors led the decline.
Celltrion fell 0.67 percent to close at 89,000 won as Medytox fell 1.48 percent to 471,500 won. Kakao, on the other hand, added 0.91 percent to 88,800 won. CJ E&M went down 0.71 percent to 83,400 won.
The local currency closed at 1,140.00 won against the dollar, down 10.3 won from the previous day.
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]