Kospi flat as foreigners sell and individuals buy
Stocks fell Monday after choppy trading, roiled by foreign and institutional investors who sought to take profits before their stock options expire later this week. The won fell against the dollar.
The benchmark Kospi fell 3.73 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 3,148.45 points, breaking its two-day winning streak.
Trading volume was exceptionally high at about 1.7 billion shares worth some 44.1 trillion won ($40.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 712 to 170.
The stock market ran unusually volatile, with the Kospi peaking at 3,266.23 points and bottoming at 3,096.19 points.
Institutions offloaded a net 3.7 trillion won and foreigners dumped a net 712 billion won. Retail investors bought a net 4.5 trillion won.
Analysts attributed the fall to a massive selling spree by institutions, which raked in local stocks for the year-end dividends last year and are apparently seeking to cash in profits ahead of the option expiration day on Thursday.
"From early December to the ex-dividend day, financial investment institutions bought some 4 trillion won worth of Kospi 200 shares," NH Investment & Securities analyst Noh Dong-kil said.
"Since the ex-dividend day, they have been cashing in these assets, which affected the Kospi's performance Monday," he added.
Most large caps closed mixed in Seoul.
Samsung Electronics advanced 2.48 percent to record 91,000 won, following reports that it is competing with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing over a chip outsourcing deal offered by Intel.
Hyundai Motor surged 8.74 percent to 267,500 won after logging a jaw-dropping, two-digit hike the previous session, fueled by reports that Korea's largest carmaker may sign a deal on Apple's autonomous electric cars.
Naver moved down 0.96 percent to 309,000 won, while Kakao jumped 4.38 percent to 453,000 won.
Chemical firm LG Chem edged down 0.1 percent to 998,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI lost 1.22 percent to 730,000 won.
Samsung Biologics gained 1.08 percent to 846,000 won, and Celltrion rose 1.91 percent to 374,000 won.
The Kosdaq fell 11.16 points, or 1.13 percent, to close at 976.63.
The local currency closed at 1,097.3 won against the dollar, up 7.5 won from the previous session's close.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The return on the three-year bond lost one basis point to close at 0.97 percent, and the return on the 10-year bond added 3.6 basis points to close at 1.11 percent.
BY CHEA SARAH, YONHAP [email@example.com]
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