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Kospi falls as institutions go on selling spree

July 19,2018
Korean stocks ended lower Wednesday as relief spurred by gains on Wall Street gave way to greater caution as the U.S. dollar hit a nine-month high against the Korean won.

The benchmark Kospi shed 7.81 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 2,290.11. Trade volume was slim at 4.83 trillion won ($4.27 billion).

The index moved higher in the morning, following U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s positive assessment of the economy and reports of solid earnings by some tech firms.

The upward movement was cut short when institutions became net sellers and dumped 263.3 billion won worth of stocks.

Retail investors bought a net 163.4 billion won and foreigners picked up a net 91.2 billion won, preventing the index from falling lower.

“With no certain market-moving events out there, the market is likely to show greater volatility for some time,” said Kim Yu-kyeom, an analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.

Shares related to the inter-Korean economic cooperation projects tumbled after U.S. President Donald Trump hinted Tuesday at taking a step back from his earlier call for immediate denuclearization of North Korea.

Hyundai Cement nosedived 8.88 percent to 48,200 won and Hyundai Engineering & Construction lost 3.9 percent to 51,700 won. State-run utility firm Korea Electric Power Corporation skidded 2.04 percent to 31,150 won.

Auto shares also tumbled on profit taking by investors.

Top carmaker Hyundai Motor moved down 1.98 percent to 124,000 won while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors retreated 2.47 percent to 31,600 won.

Big-cap tech shares closed higher.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics advanced 1.53 percent to 46,550 won and SK Hynix rose 0.79 percent to 89,300 won. LG Electronics jumped 2.41 percent to 80,700 won.

Bio shares finished mixed. Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion decreased 1.86 percent to 290,000 won while Samsung BioLogics inched up 0.36 percent to end at 414,500 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 9.28 points, or 1.13 percent, to 810.44. The tech-heavy index ended lower from large-scale foreign selling of pharmaceuticals and IT parts despite a 0.6 percent incline of the U.S. Nasdaq.

The Korean won closed at 1,132.30 won against the U.S. dollar, up 8.2 won from Tuesday’s close.

Bond prices ended higher. The yield on three-year bonds shed 0.7 basis points to 2.09 percent and the return on 10-year government bonds fell 2.2 basis points to 2.53 percent.

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