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Seoul stocks inch up despite low inflation rate

Feb 02,2018
Korean stocks rose slightly Thursday as retail investors were net buyers of local stocks. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi added 2.08 points, or 0.08 percent, to close at 2,568.54. Trade volume was moderate at 588 million shares worth 7.77 trillion won ($7.24 billion).

The Kospi rose for the first time in three days, despite large-scale selling of electronics shares by institutional and foreign investors and the inflation rate hitting a 17-month low in January.

The local stock market opened higher as investors took their cues from gains on Wall Street overnight.

Market sentiment was buoyed as the U.S. Federal Reserve predicted a stronger economic growth, analysts said.

Kim Byung-yeon, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said stock markets were supported by the Federal Reserve’s comments and U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech, increasing expectations for infrastructure investment in the United States.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.16 percent to end at 2,491,000 won, while SK Hynix, a global chipmaker, increased 1.22 percent to 74,400 won.

Naver, Korea’s top internet portal operator, gained 1.43 percent to 923,000 won.

Automakers traded in negative terrain, with industry leader Hyundai Motor down 0.93 percent to 160,500 won and Kia Motors dipping 0.87 percent at 34,350 won.

Steelmakers enjoyed gains. Korea’s largest steelmaker Posco grew 3.81 percent to 395,000 won, while Hyundai Steel advanced 1.58 percent to 57,900 won.

The tech-heavy Kosdaq fell 5.37 points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 908.20.

The Kosdaq has been on the decline for three day straight. It was further dragged down on Thursday by the fall in biotechnology shares listed on the U.S. Nasdaq index, which saw foreign investors withdrawing from pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceuticals sector fell 3.4 percent in the secondary market. Celltrion fell 5.04 percent while Hanmi Pharmaceuticals dropped 4.69 percent, though Samsung Biologics saw modest gains of 1.14 percent.

The games sector was on the rise, increasing 4.7 points. The local currency closed at 1,071.90 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds fell 2.5 basis points to 2.249 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond declined 3.2 basis points to 2.538 percent.

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