Seoul stocks down as U.S.-China friction continues
Stocks closed lower for the second straight day Thursday due to weaker-than-expected growth data and rising U.S.-China friction. The won fell against the dollar.
The Kospi lost 12.47 points, or 0.56 percent, to close at 2,216.19. Trading volume was high at about 920 million shares worth some 16.1 trillion won ($13.4 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 597 to 271.
Foreigners sold a net 210 billion won, and institutions offloaded a net 591 billion won. Retail investors bought a net 779 billion won.
Investor sentiment was dented amid rising political tensions between the United States and China.
The United States toughened punitive measures against China, the latest being the request to close the Chinese consulate in Houston. China vowed to strike back if the order is not reversed.
"The shutdown of the Chinese consulate signaled that the U.S.-China dispute may intensify, eventually further hurting investor sentiment," said Shinhan Financial Investment analyst Choi Yoo-joon.
The Kospi's fall is also partly attributed to the dismal economic growth data.
Korea's economy shrank at a sharper-than-expected rate of 2.9 percent in the second quarter of the year from the same period last year due to a slump in private spending and outbound shipments.
The figure marks the slowest quarterly growth since a 3.8 percent on-year retreat in the last three months of 1998, when the country was hit hard by the financial crisis.
In Seoul, most large caps traded lower.
Samsung Electronics lost 1.1 percent to 54,100 won, with chipmaker SK hynix shedding 0.96 percent to 82,400 won.
Samsung BioLogics dropped 1.9 percent to 775,000 won, and leading steelmaker Posco retreated 1.01 percent to 195,500 won.
Game publisher Ncsoft tumbled 5.81 percent to 881,000 won.
Among gainers, the country's largest automaker, Hyundai Motor, spiked 5.06 percent to 124,500 won, with internet giant Naver surging 5.19 percent to 284,000 won.
The local currency closed at 1,197.3 won per dollar, down 2 won from the previous session's close.
The secondary Kosdaq added 6.70 points, or 0.84 percent, to close at 801.69.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds lost 1.3 basis points to 0.797 percent, while the return on the benchmark ten-year government bond lost 0.4 basis points to reach 0.59 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]