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Seoul stocks fall as fears of a trade war linger

Mar 08,2018
Korean stocks closed lower Wednesday over lingering fears of a global trade war after a key advocate of free trade and aide of U.S. President Donald Trump resigned. The Korean won appreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi fell 9.59 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 2,401.82. Trade volume was moderate at 8.02 trillion won ($7.5 billion).

The main bourse opened lower as foreign and institutional investors remained net sellers, offloading 257.4 billion won and 103.6 billion won each. Individuals bought more than they sold, purchasing a net 358.5 billion won.

Investor sentiment was knocked by news that White House economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned in protest over Trump’s tariff move.

Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said some investors also booked profits from recent gains.

By sector, pharmaceuticals took the largest hit, falling 5.9 percent. Celltrion plunged 12.16 percent to 325,000 won after Temasek Holdings of Singapore sold over 1 trillion won of its shares in the bio firm. Samsung BioLogics, Samsung’s bio arm, also inched down 0.22 percent to 448,000 won.

Large-cap shares were mixed.

Samsung Electronics rose 3.4 percent to end at 2,431,000 won, and SK Hynix, a global chipmaker, edged up 0.36 percent to 82,700 won.

Naver, the operator of the country’s top Internet portal, shed 0.13 percent to 795,000 won.

Automakers traded in negative terrain, with industry leader Hyundai Motor down 2.87 percent to 152,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors dipping 2.65 percent to 33,100 won. Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai’s auto parts subsidiary, dropped 2.28 percent to 214,500 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 18.18 points, or 2.12 percent, to 841.03. Weakened investor sentiment from U.S. protectionist fears, lower Asian stocks and mass selling of Celltrion subsidiary shares weighed on the decline.

Foreigners sold more than they bought, offloading a net 201 billion won. Institutions and individuals were net buyers, each purchasing 52 billion won and 192.4 billion won.

Celltrion Healthcare, a Celltrion subsidiary, plummeted 11.89 percent to 105,200 won.

The local currency closed at 1,069.10 won against the U.S. dollar, down 7 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year bonds fell 1.5 basis points to 2.30 percent, and the return on 10-year government bonds declined 3.2 basis points to 2.73 percent.

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