Kospi rides to higher close on steel, shipping

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Kospi rides to higher close on steel, shipping

Korean stocks finished marginally higher yesterday as investors picked up steel, shipyard and other large-cap shares on optimism that Washington-led measures to rescue ailing financial firms may lead to overall market stabilization.

The benchmark Kospi rose 4.56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,460.34. The key index rose above the 1,488-mark in early trading before reducing out its losses in the afternoon on retail bargain hunting. Volume was heavy at 347.1 million shares worth 6 trillion won ($5.52 billion). Losers, however, outpaced gainers 498 to 323.

“Friday’s surges on Wall Street set a brisk tone for local stocks with investors picking up global leading issues such as steelmakers and shipbuilders,” said Park So-yeon, an analyst at Korea Investment and Securities. “Gains, however, were pared later as investors rushed to take profits from recent rallies,” he added.

On Friday, U.S. stocks picked up on expectations that the government would help rescue struggling financial companies by picking up their bad debts and restore stability to the overall economy. The Dow Jones industrial average soared 3.4 percent and the tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index advanced 3.4 percent.

Samsung Electronics, the nation’s technology bellwether, remained unchanged at 558,000 won and its rival LG Electronics lost 0.5 percent. Hynix Semiconductor, the world’s No. 2 chip maker, shed 2.7 percent and KTF, the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier, tumbled 4.1 percent after prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for its Chief Executive Cho Young-chu on suspicions of taking kickbacks from suppliers.

Steelmakers and lenders led the overall gains, with industries’ leaders Posco climbing 2.5 percent and Kookmin Bank jumping 4.7 percent. Kookmin shares advanced on expectation that it could grab the chance to become the owner of Korea Exchange Bank as the deal between Lone Star Funds and HSBC over the nation’s fifth-largest lender was scrapped last Friday. Along with gains at the top lender Kookmin, Shinhan Finance Holdings and Woori Finance Holdings mounted 2.1 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. Construction and auto stocks also finished in the black. Hyundai Engineering and Construction soared 4.6 percent and leading automaker Hyundai Motor added 2.4 percent. Yonhap
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