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Seoul stocks jump up before holiday begins

Feb 15,2018
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Korean stocks closed a holiday-shortened week on a positive note Wednesday, helped by overnight gains on Wall Street, with biopharmaceutical shares leading the gains. The value of the Korean won appreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi soared 26.64 points, or 1.11 percent, to close at 2,421.83. Trade volume was slim at 301.97 million shares worth 5.77 trillion won ($5.35 billion).

Most market heavyweights traded bullish across the board as major U.S. indices extended gains for a third-straight session following last week’s slump.

The turnover was relatively slim as investors were in a wait-and-see mode ahead of U.S. inflation data due out later in the day.

“The U.S. market became less volatile, helping ease jittery investor sentiment in the local equity market,” said Kim Ye-eun, an analyst at IBK Securities. “Foreigners supported the market index as they picked up large market caps, but uncertainties remain ahead of the interest rate hike in the U.S.”

Foreigners and institutions each bought a net 105.61 billion won and 114.94 billion won worth of local stocks, respectively, while retail investors dumped a net 211.18 billion won to lock in recent gains.

Biopharmaceutical shares rallied as investors bet on positive corporate news.

Celltrion, a major pharmaceutical firm, jumped 6.29 percent to 312,500 won, after the company said its biosimilar received EU approval for treatment of early breast cancer. Samsung Biologics, Samsung’s health care unit, increased 1.75 percent to 436,000 won.

Tech shares were mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained a hefty 3.07 percent to 2,450,000 won, while SK Hynix, a memory chip giant, inched down 0.13 percent to 77,600 won.

Korea Electric Power Corporation, the state-run power provider, declined 1.19 percent to 33,100 won after posting weak fourth-quarter operating earnings.

The secondary market Kosdaq gained 18.64 points, or 2.25 percent, to close at 848.03. Pharmaceuticals and semiconductors were winners, gaining 2.7 percent and 3.3 percent each across sector.

The local currency closed at 1,077.2 won against the dollar, down 7.3 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher.

The yield on three-year bonds shed 1.3 basis points to 2.27 percent, and the return on 10-year government bonds retreated 1.7 basis points to 2.76 percent.


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