Stocks tumble ahead of global elections
Seoul’s main bourse fell for the first time in three days as investor sentiment weakened ahead of elections in France and a possible early election in the United Kingdom.
The benchmark Kospi closed 2,138.40, down 10.06 points, or 0.47 percent, from the previous trading day. The Korea Exchange said uncertainties from abroad led investors to go for safe haven assets.
Foreign investors offloaded 237.2 billion won ($208 million) in shares, while institutional investors bought 125.2 billion won worth of stock. Retail investors also bought 114.5 billion won in shares.
The index has ended in positive territory in the past two sessions, aided by eased investor worries after the U.S. decided not to designate Korea as a currency manipulator.
Tech, auto and steel stocks led losses, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics falling 1.45 percent to 2,045,000 won. Top carmaker Hyundai Motor slid 2.84 percent to 137,000 won, and No. 1 steelmaker Posco was down 2.06 percent to 261,500 won.
Korea Electric Power Corporation fell 1.99 percent to 44,400 won and SK Hynix dropped 0.7 percent to 49,850 won. Meanwhile, tobacco company KT&G rose 1 percent to 101,000 won and LG Electronics added 1 percent to end at 70,700 won.
Financial and defensive stocks were among gainers. KB Financial Group rose 0.5 percent to 50,100 won, and cosmetics manufacturer AmorePacific jumped 3.68 percent to 296,000 won.
The secondary Kosdaq closed at 635.99, up 1.26 points, or 0.2 percent, from the previous trading day. It rose for the third consecutive day as investors had high hopes about the newly growing industries due to the possible changes in government policies made by the new administration ahead of the presidential election.
Celltrion rose 0.55 percent to 91,700 won, while Kakao fell 1.13 percent to 87,200 won.
The local currency closed at 1,140.20 won against the U.S. dollar, up 2.20 won from the previous session’s close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 0.6 basis point to 1.67 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond declined 1.7 basis points at 1.85 percent.
BY KIM YOUNG-NAM, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]