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Stocks drop as institutions take profits

Mar 16,2017
Seoul’s main bourse fell for the first time in four trading days as institutional investors went for profit-taking from recent gains due to weakened investor sentiment ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement on its rate policy.

The benchmark Kospi closed at 2,133.00, down 0.78 points, or 0.04 percent, from the previous trading day.

Institutional investors offloaded for the sixth consecutive day and sold 260 billion won ($227.3 million) in shares just on Wednesday. Foreign investors, who continued their buying spree for the eighth trading day, bought 120.3 billion won worth of stock and retail investors bought 84.7 billion won in shares.

“A slide in oil prices have led to a fall in the U.S. stock market, and investors remained cautious as the Fed is set to announce its rate decision,” said Lee Kyong-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities.

Most market heavyweights closed higher with banking and tech stocks leading market gains.

Top-cap leader Samsung Electronics edged up 0.1 percent to end at a fresh high of 2,070,000 won.

But other affiliates declined. On Tuesday, they soared on news that Samsung remains firm in pushing for a plan to transition to a holding company structure, regardless of the leadership vacuum caused by the detention of its de facto chief, Lee Jae-yong.

Samsung C&T, the de facto holding firm of Samsung, shed 0.76 percent to end at 131,000 won, and Samsung Life Insurance fell 0.44 percent to end at 113,500 won.

Automaker Hyundai Motor gained 0.34 percent at 149,500 won, and SK Hynix, a major chipmaker, shed 2.98 percent to 48,800 won. LG Electronics, a major home appliance maker, was 1.04 percent higher at 67,800 won on hopes that its latest high-end smartphone, the G6, will sell more than expected.

The secondary Kosdaq closed at 608.68, down 5.44 points, or 0.89 percent, from the previous trading day.

The local currency closed at 1,143.60 against the U.S. dollar, up 5.2 won.

The three year government bond yield remained unchanged at 1.76 percent, while the 10-year bond yield dropped 2 basis points to close at 2.27 percent.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM, YONHAP [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]