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Geopolitical uncertainty pushes Kospi down

May 18,2018
Korea’s stock market closed lower on Thursday despite kicking off slightly higher in the session amid escalating uncertainties surrounding inter-Korean relations. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi moved down 11.37 points, or 0.46 percent, to 2,448.43. Trade volume was high at 8.1 trillion won ($7.49 billion).

Seoul shares closed down despite starting higher earlier in the day, as investors apparently continued to take a wait-and-see stance on inter-Korean relations after Pyongyang unilaterally decided to cancel high-level talks with South Korea earlier this week.

Analysts said there are still signs of recovery, however.

“We can still hope that concerns over a possible rupture of the summit between North Korea and the United State will ease,” said Seo Sang-yong, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities. He added that the U.S. assured the so-called Libya model of denuclearization will not be applied to Pyongyang.

Foreigners sold a net 270 billion won, while retail investors bought a net 145 billion won. Institutions bought a net 107 billion won.

Tech shares led the overall decline, with market giant Samsung Electronics slipping 0.9 percent to 49,400 won and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix losing 0.34 percent to 86,700 won.

Pharmaceutical shares also lost ground, with Celltrion falling 0.37 percent to 267,500 won and Samsung BioLogics retreating 3.86 percent to 398,000 won.

Top steelmaker Posco lost 0.83 percent to end at 360,000 won while Hyundai Steel edged up 2.54 percent to 64,600 won.

Top carmaker Hyundai Motor shed 0.66 percent to 149,500 won. Its auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis moved up 0.21 percent to 237,500 won.

The secondary Kosdaq gained 5.33 points, or 0.63 percent, to 855.62. The tech-heavy index, buoyed by the 1.4 percent incline in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, closed in positive terrain as foreign investors bought semiconductor and IT shares en masse.

Foreigners bought a net 73.6 billion won in shares. Institutions and individuals were net sellers, offloading 5.7 billion won and 63.3 billion won each.

By sector, semiconductors gained 1.5 percent while IT parts rose 3.3 percent.

The local currency closed at 1,081.20 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.6 won from the previous session.

Bond prices ended higher. The yield on three-year bonds fell 2.3 basis points to 2.26 percent, and the return on 10-year government bonds shed 0.2 basis points to 2.80 percent.


BY KIM EUN-JIN, YONHAP [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]


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