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Losses on Wall Street spur sell-off in Korea

Feb 10,2018
Korean markets closed lower on Friday after foreign investors dumped local stocks following cues from Wall Street. Investor confidence was also weakened by signals from the Bank of England of an impending interest rate hike.

The benchmark index, the Kospi, sank 43.85 points, or 1.82 percent from the previous session, to 2,363.77. Foreign investors sold a net 308.94 billion won ($283 million) in shares, exceeding net buying of a combined 292.34 billion won by institutional and retail investors.

Asian markets continued to feel the shock of losses on Wall Street, where on Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell a sharp 4.15 percent to 23,860.46.

In Korea, most large-cap stocks fell across the board. By sector, securities was one of the hardest hit, plunging 3.2 percent. Shinhan Financial Group stepped down 3.63 percent to 47,800 won, while Hana Financial Group closed at 48,450 won, a 2.71 percent drop.

Samsung Electronics, the largest company on the index by market cap, slumped 2.83 percent to 2,235,000 won, while SK Hynix, a major producer of memory chips, declined 0.68 percent to 73,400 won and automaker Hyundai Motor stepped down 3.73 percent to 155,000 won.

Among gainers, the national flag carrier Korean Air rose 1.41 percent to 36,000 won. Low-cost carrier Jeju Air jumped 7.63 percent to 43,750 won after reporting solid earnings for 2017.

The tech-heavy Kosdaq fell 19.34 points, or 2.24 percent, to 842.60 after the Nasdaq retreated 4 percent a day earlier.

Institutional and foreign investors were net sellers, offloading a total 308.7 billion won in shares. Retail investors were net buyers, purchasing 392.1 billion won worth of stocks.

The pharmaceutical sector took a huge hit after Celltrion, Korea’s top biopharmaceutical company, moved to the Kospi on Friday.

Celltrion Healthcare, a subsidiary of Celltrion that is still listed on the Kosdaq, fell 2.06 percent to 119,000 won. SillaJen tumbled 4.09 percent to 91,400 won.

Retail and e-commerce were also losers. GS Home Shopping plunged 5.59 percent to 206,200 won, and CJ O Shopping fell 5.97 percent to 212,600 won.

The local currency closed at 1,092.10 won against the dollar, down 4.20 won from the previous session.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. Returns on three-year bonds rose 0.6 basis points to 2.28 percent, and returns on 10-year bonds climbed 1.3 basis points to 2.76 percent.

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