On last day of trading, market edges up

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On last day of trading, market edges up

Korean shares advanced on the last trading day of the year thanks to net buyers, foreign and local institutional investors. Retail investors were net sellers. The benchmark Kospi climbed 0.45 percent to close at 2,011.34, a 0.72 percent increase over the market’s ending price in 2012. The annual increase put Korea in 14th place among G-20 countries.

Samsung Electronics dropped 1.72 percent to 1,372,000 won ($1,299.98). LG Electronics slipped 0.29 percent to 68,100 won. SK Hynix, the world’s second-largest chipmaker, climbed 0.41 percent to 36,800 won.

Hyundai Motor jumped 3.05 percent to 236,500 won, while sister automaker Kia Motors climbed 0.36 percent to 56,100 won. Hyundai Mobis, the auto parts maker, was also up 1.56 percent to 293,500 won.

Samsung Engineering was up 2.33 percent to 66,000 won after industry predictions that the constructor will have a surplus next year in operating profit. OCI, the polysilicon producer, also rose 2.14 percent to 191,000 won on expectations that solar power products will keep selling well next year.

The Korean won rose 22.5 percent this year versus the Japanese yen, the most in Bloomberg data going back to 1986, after an increase of 22.1 percent in 2012. It rose 0.8 percent against the dollar this year, after jumping 8.3 percent in the previous 12 months. The won reached 10.006 per yen yesterday, the strongest level since September 2008, before trading at 10.018 in Seoul, according to Bloomberg data. It fell 0.1 percent against the dollar today, to 1,055.49.

“The won’s strength will continue into 2014, although the pace of gains may not be as strong,” said Hong Sung-woo, a currency dealer at Industrial Bank of Korea. “The robust current-account surplus will keep luring investors and Japan’s policy will weaken the yen further.”

The won will climb to 9.736 versus the yen by the end of 2014, Hong added.

The won’s gain versus the yen marks a turnaround from a 41 percent decline in 2008 and a slide to an all-time low of 16.42 in March 2009. The movements have been relatively fast and are “problematic,” South Korean Vice Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said on Dec. 19. The won’s advance against the yen hurts the nation’s exporters, which compete with Japanese companies in overseas markets.

BY KIM JI-YOON, BLOOMBERG [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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