Seoul stocks inch up but won still struggling

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Seoul stocks inch up but won still struggling

Korean shares closed a tad higher Tuesday, largely helped by institutional buying, one day after the local shares plunged to a near four-month low. The won continued to lose ground against the dollar.

The benchmark Kospi added 2.83 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 2,081.84. Trading volume was moderate at nearly 689 million shares worth some 5.78 trillion won ($4.86 billion) with gainers outnumbering losers 489 to 325.


The slight gain came one day after the index plunged 29.03 points, or 1.38 percent, to the lowest since Jan. 14.

The latest jitters in the local market apparently stem from the renewed trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies - the United States and China.

“The market slightly rebounded today because the downturn, prompted by concerns over the trade dispute between the [Group of 2], may have been somewhat excessive,” said Lee Won, a researcher at Bookook Securities. “But there still exist concerns over the trade dispute.”

Foreigners remained sellers for the fourth consecutive session, offloading a net 285 billion won worth of local shares. Institutions purchased a net 336 billion, while individuals sold a net 59.7 billion.

Large caps closed mixed.

Samsung Electronics remained steady at 42,650 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix gained 1.50 percent, to 74,600 won. LG Electronics jumped 1.56 percent, to 71,500 won.

Bio shares also ended on a positive note. Celltrion gained 0.51 percent, to 195,500 won, and Samsung BioLogics skyrocketed 7.54 percent, to 306,500 won.

Steelmaker Posco rose 0.42 percent, to 239,500 won.

Autos, on the other hand, continued to suffer losses with industry leader Hyundai Motor slipping 0.78 percent, to 128,000 won and top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis dipping 0.93 percent, to 212,500 won. Sister company Kia Motors, however, remained steady at 42,350 won.

The secondary Kosdaq gained 1.36 points, or 0.19 percent, to close at 710.16. Despite starting lower due to heavy losses in Nasdaq shares overnight, the index ended its losing streak thanks to foreigners mass purchasing local stocks.

The won again found a new more than two-year low, closing at 1,189.40 won to the dollar, up 1.90 won from Monday’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year bonds lost 1.0 basis points to 1.711 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds fell 0.6 basis points to 1.868 percent.

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