U.S. housing stats buoy Kospi, techs lead

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U.S. housing stats buoy Kospi, techs lead

Korean stocks closed 1.56 percent higher yesterday as signs of recovery in the U.S. housing market prompted investors to snap up shares following a sharp fall in the previous session, analysts said.

The benchmark Kospi jumped 28.05 points to 1,822.96, rebounding from a 1.48 percent decline on Wednesday. Trading volume was moderate at 482.3 million shares worth 4.6 trillion won ($4 billion), with gainers outnumbering decliners 534 to 276.

“The housing stats data signaled a recovery in the U.S. property market,” said Kim Young-jun, an analyst at SK Securities.

U.S. government data showed that U.S. builders broke ground on the largest number of new homes and apartments since October 2008. The upbeat data came after an index on Tuesday showed that home builder confidence jumped to a five-year high.

“The Kospi also made a quick recovery from losses that were triggered by Pyongyang’s surprise announcement [of a top-brass reshuffle] on Wednesday. The incident simply generated some noise in the market,” said Kim.

Technology shares led the gains. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 3.55 percent to 1,195,000 won and NHN, the operator of Korea’s No. 1 portal, surged 5.91 percent to 269,000 won.

Korean Air, Korea’s national flag carrier, edged up 1 percent to close at 51,800 won. It posted a net loss in the second quarter, mainly due to foreign exchange losses. Its net loss came to 158.47 billion won in the April-June period, compared with a profit of 21.15 billion won a year ago, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Autos lent their support, with top automaker Hyundai Motor rising 2.99 percent to 224,000 won and its auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis advancing 4.55 percent to 287,500 won.

Energy companies closed bullish on the back of rising oil prices. Market leader SK Innovation rose 2.44 percent to 147,000 won.

Bank shares, however, bucked the gains as the anti-trade watchdog’s widening probe on the local finance sector stoked concerns. State-run Woori Finance Holdings slumped 4.07 percent to 10,600 won and smaller player Hana Financial Group lost 2.64 percent to 33,200 won.

The local currency ended at 1,139.1 won against the greenback, up 3.5 won from Wednesday’s close. Yonhap
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