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Institutional selling pulls down Kospi

May 18,2017
Seoul’s main bourse snapped out of a three-day rally and fell on Wednesday, with the benchmark index, the Kospi, closing at 2,293.08, down 2.24 points or 0.10 percent from the previous trading session.

Foreign and retail investors were the main buyers of local stocks, each scooping up 7 and 161.3 billion won ($144 million) worth of shares. Institutional investors, however, offloaded 218.7 billion won in Korean stocks.

“The recent rally was largely driven by domestic-focused issues, which is quite unprecedented given that blue-chip exporters usually have led a bull market,” said Seo Jung-hun, an analyst at Samsung Securities. “But it’s doubtful these stocks will keep up because their investors are mostly institutions, not foreigners who have far more clout in terms of the Kospi’s gains.”

Large-cap shares were in negative terrain overall. Top-cap Samsung Electronics inched down 0.09 percent to 2,317,000 won, turning around from a three-day spree. Chipmaker SK Hynix tumbled 1.08 percent to 54,700 won, and portal giant Naver dropped 0.83 percent to 832,000 won.

Despite the overall decline, local auto companies managed to do well. Leading carmaker Hyundai Motor rose 0.63 percent to 158,500 won, and its sister company Kia Motors went up 0.68 percent to 37,150 won.

Netmarble, which went public last week, plummeted 7.69 percent to 144,000 won after rival game developer NCsoft announced the official release date of Lineage M, a mobile-based game that is expected to challenge Netmarble’s Lineage II: Revolution.

Korean retailers gained ground on growing hope that China’s hostile policy stemming from a diplomatic dispute over a U.S. antimissile system may be coming to an end. Lotte Shopping jumped 2.58 percent to 278,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq index made slight gains on Wednesday, up 0.90 points or 0.14 percent from the previous session, to close at 640.01.

The local currency ended at 1,118.30 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.3 won from Tuesday’s close.

The yield on three-year government bonds fell three basis points to 1.68 percent, and returns on 10-year bonds decreased five basis points to 2.25 percent.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO, YONHAP [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]