Local stocks end lower over trade concerns

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Local stocks end lower over trade concerns


Korean stocks ended lower Thursday as investors stayed on the sidelines amid persistent concerns over global trade protectionism. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi shed 7.82 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 2,282.29, extending its losing streak to a fourth straight session. Trade volume was moderate at 5.36 trillion won ($4.73 billion).

The index opened higher on foreign buying amid positive assessments of the U.S. economy by its central bank and upbeat outlooks for the second corporate earnings. The index lost its upward momentum, however, as investor sentiment weakened due to lower Chinese stocks and news that the European Commission would set a quota on steel imports beginning Thursday amid ongoing trade disputes with the United States.

Foreign investors scaled down their buying to pick up a net 53.2 billion won worth of local shares, while individuals sold off a net 34 billion won and institutions shed a net 17.9 billion won.

Steel shares drifted lower. Top steelmaker Posco shed 1.41 percent to 314,500 won, and Hyundai Steel fell 1.25 percent to 47,400 won.

Materials and utilities also lost ground, with state-run utility firm Korea Electric Power Corporation falling 0.96 percent to 30,850 won and Hyundai Cement nosediving 6.22 percent to 45,200 won.

The bearish market took a toll on financial shares. KB Financial Group retreated 2.9 percent to 53,600 won, after reporting a 4.4 percent fall in its second-quarter net profit, and Shinhan Financial Group moved down 1 percent to 44,500 won.

Big-cap tech shares, though, won out on Thursday. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics advanced 0.75 percent to 46,900 won and SK Hynix surged 1.12 percent to 90,300 won.

Automakers also gained on the back of the government’s tax incentives for car buyers. Kia Motors soared 0.95 percent to 31,900 won, and Hyundai Mobis, the auto parts unit of Hyundai Motor Group, rose 0.45 percent to 222,000 won. Top carmaker Hyundai Motor remained unchanged at 124,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq dropped 13.95 points, or 1.72 percent, to 796.49, falling below the 800-point threshold for the first time in 10 days due to large-scale foreign selling of pharmaceutical shares. The Korean won closed at 1,133.20 won against the U.S. dollar, up 0.9 won from Wednesday’s close.

Bond prices ended lower. The yield on three-year bonds added 0.2 basis points to 2.09 percent, and the return on 10-year government bonds rose 1 basis point to 2.54 percent.

BY KIM EUN-JIN, YONHAP [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]
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