Seoul stocks inch up amid hopes of economic recovery
Stocks finished a tad higher Wednesday despite escalating tension between the United States and China, as investors sought to scoop up bargains amid growing hopes of an economic recovery. The won fell against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi added 1.42 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 2,031.20, extending its winning streak to a third consecutive session. Trading volume was high at about 1.16 billion shares worth some 12.5 trillion won ($10.1 billion), with winners outnumbering losers 477 to 362.
The advance came one day after the Kospi breached the psychologically significant 2,000-point threshold for the first time since March 6.
The index fluctuated throughout the day after opening slightly lower on news reports that the United States may freeze assets of Chinese officials and businesses in retaliation against Beijing's push for a new national security law for Hong Kong.
Korea's exports had dropped for 14 consecutive months since December 2018 amid the prolonged trade dispute between the world's two largest economies that was put on pause after they signed the trade agreement in January.
The United States and China are Korea's two largest trade partners.
"The market seems to be taking a breather, considering that the hopes of economic reopening and China's stimulus measures have already been projected in the Kospi in the previous session," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Individuals purchased a net 322.3 billion won, offsetting massive sell-offs by both foreigners and institutions. Foreign investors dumped a net 217 billion won, with institutions offloading a net 86.4 billion won.
Large caps closed mixed.
Samsung Electronics surged 1.32 percent to 49,900 won, while chipmaker SK hynix fell 0.61 percent to 81,400 won.
Pharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics tumbled 3.26 percent to 624,000 won, and Celltrion slipped 0.7 percent to 213,000 won.
Hyundai Motor advanced 0.31 percent to 98,100 won, with its smaller affiliate Kia Motors climbing 1.43 percent to 31,950 won.
IT shares were in negative territory. Naver shed 4.39 percent to close at 228,500 won, and Kakao, the operator of the messenger app Kakao Talk, inched down 3.52 percent reaching 260,500 won.
The secondary Kosdaq closed at 724.59 down 4.52 points or 0.62 percent.
The local currency closed at 1,234.40 won per dollar, up 0.10 won from the previous session's close.
BY KANG JAE-EUN, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]