Seoul shares fall on European uncertainties

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Seoul shares fall on European uncertainties

Korean stocks fell 0.71 percent yesterday in the face of rising European uncertainties ahead of Greece’s critical elections and mixed U.S. economic data, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi moved down 13.32 points to 1,858.16 after a choppy session. Trading volume was light at 4.26 million shares worth 4.46 trillion won ($3.83 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 486 to 344.

“Investor sentiment was dented by mounting euro zone uncertainties, weaker than expected U.S. economic data and possibility of stimulus programs,” said Lee Sang-jae, a senior economist at Hyundai Securities.

Greece’s election, slated for Sunday, and how the European Union handles Spain’s bailout program will determine the fate of the 17-member monetary union that can impact the global economy, he said.

Oh Seh-hyun, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities, said the U.S. data in real estate has improved, but this has been offset by sluggish numbers in retails and jobs. He added that recent downgrading of growth forecasts for countries around the world affected the local bourse.

Big-cap shares in electronics, steel and some financials lost ground with gains made in autos and petrochemicals.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics plunged 3.49 percent to 1,217,000 won, with global steelmaker Posco falling 0.40 percent to 375,000 won.

SK Hynix, one of the leading makers of memory chips, fell 2.09 percent to 23,400 won, while top life insurer Samsung Life Insurance gave up 0.83 percent to 95,700 won.

Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor, on the other hand, gained 0.84 percent to reach 240,000 won with top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis edging up 0.19 percent to 270,500 won.

LG Chem, a leading manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, added 0.87 percent to 291,000 won with Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipmaker, closing flat at 272,500 won.

The local currency finished at 1,165.6 won to the U.S. greenback, up 0.7 won from Thursday’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher.

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