Dismal employment figures pull down Kospi

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Dismal employment figures pull down Kospi


Korea’s main bourse inched down on Wednesday with trade tension brewing between China and the United States and dismal job figures for August lowering investor sentiment in Korea.

The benchmark Kospi shed 0.28 points, or 0.01 percent from the previous day, to close at 2,282.92. Trade volume was moderate at 6.27 trillion won ($5.56 billion).

Although the index started higher on the back of retail buying, the Kospi along with other major Asian indexes fell as foreigners dumped stocks on concerns of growing friction between the United States and China.

China on Tuesday said it would seek permission from the World Trade Organization next week to impose sanctions on American goods in retaliation against Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over dumping duties.

“China asking the World Trade Organization to impose tariffs on the United States dented investor sentiment on concerns of a protracted trade war between the world’s two biggest economies,” said Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookook Securities.

Dismal job numbers also discouraged investors. Statistics Korea released data for August on Wednesday, and showed Korea’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, the highest since January 2010.

Foreign investors offloaded a net 414.76 billion won worth of Korean stocks. Institutions bought a net 195.5 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 187.06 billion won.

Tech shares were down with market leader Samsung Electronics skidding 1.11 percent to 44,550 won and SK Hynix, a chipmaker, retreating 1.96 percent to 75,100 won.

Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion jumped 3.83 percent to 285,000 won, and top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.17 percent to 129,500 won.

LG Chem, the country’s largest chemical company, edged up 0.73 percent to 343,500 won, while No. 1 steelmaker Posco declined 0.17 percent to 291,500 won.

The Kosdaq added 6.10 points, up 0.74 percent from the previous day, to end higher for a second consecutive session at 826.33. The bio and tech-heavy index was buoyed by a rebound in the U.S. Nasdaq, which ended 0.61 percent higher on Tuesday after four consecutive sessions of losses.

The local currency closed at 1,128.6 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.3 won from Tuesday’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The return on three-year bonds shed 3 basis points to end at 1.89 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds fell 1.9 basis points to 2.25 percent.

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