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Kospi slumps on worries about China, tax bill

Nov 15,2017
Korean stocks finished lower Tuesday as investors took to the sidelines over weak Chinese economic data and uncertainties over U.S. tax policy. The Korean won strengthened against the greenback.

The benchmark Kospi lost 3.71 points, or 0.15 percent, to close at 2,526.64. Trade volume was relatively light, as 283.65 million shares worth 5.67 trillion won ($5.07 billion) changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 432 to 372.

Market heavyweights had a bearish day, as investors were skittish on U.S. tax reform efforts and also focused on Chinese data released before the market close.

China’s retail sales rose 10 percent on-year in October and industrial output grew 6.2 percent, both of which were below market expectations.

“Investors are in wait-and-see mode as the prospects for the U.S. tax bill remain cloudy, which is a negative factor for offshore traders,” Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.

Foreign investors sold a net 300.31 billion won worth of local stocks, while institutions and retail investors scooped up a net 140.9 billion won and 117.3 billion won, respectively.

Tech shares had a mixed day. Market kingpin Samsung Electronics edged down 0.82 percent to 2,796,000 won, whereas SK Hynix, a major chipmaker, scored 1.34 percent to 83,400 won. LG Electronics fell 1.61 percent to 91,500 won and top portal operator Naver declined 1.71 percent to end at 805,000 won.

Hyundai Motor, the No. 1 automaker, was steady at 160,500 won, while sister carmaker Kia Motors slumped 2.09 percent to 35,050 won. No. 1 chemical firm LG Chem slipped 0.51 percent to 319,000 won.

Kangwon Land, a state-run casino operator, shot up 5.32 percent to 37,600 won on upbeat prospect for revenue increases next year thanks to the February PyeongChang Winter Olympics in Gangwon, where the casino is located.

Korean Air edged up 0.33 percent to 30,700 won after announcing that its third-quarter earnings plunged 88 percent year-on-year on currency-related issues. The company also blamed lower travel demand from China.

The local currency closed at 1,118.1 won against the U.S. dollar, up 2.5 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, fell. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 3.1 basis points to 2.211 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds increased 3.2 basis points to 2.417 percent.

BY SEO JI-EUN, YONHAP [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]