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Seoul stocks weighed down by Syria tensions

Apr 13,2018
Korean stocks closed a volatile session on a downbeat note on Thursday as escalating tensions in Syria and lingering economic uncertainties eroded investor confidence. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi lost 1.51 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 2,442.71. Trade volume was moderate at 8 trillion won ($7.48 billion).

The Bank of Korea held the policy interest rate steady at 1.5 percent for the fifth consecutive month, against the backdrop of below-target inflation and the possibility of a trade war between the United States and China hurting the nation’s export prospects.

The index started higher on the back of foreign buying, but retreated in late afternoon as institutions turned to net sellers.

“U.S. stocks retreated on Wednesday as concerns over a possible U.S. military action against Syria unnerved investors, weighing down the local stock market,” Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.

Institutions and individuals dumped a net 150.22 billion won and 75.23 billion won each. Foreigners turned to net buyers, picking up a 234.14 billion won worth of local stocks.

Airlines lost ground as oil prices jumped more than 3 percent Tuesday on concerns that fighting in Syria could restrict oil supplies and push prices higher.

Bio shares decreased, taking a breather from a recent rally.

Samsung BioLogics, Samsung’s healthcare unit, declined 3.25 percent to 565,000 won, and Celltrion, a major pharmaceutical firm, inched up 0.17 percent to 298,500 won.

In contrast, tech heavyweights were up.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics edged up 0.29 percent to 2,450,000 won, and global chipmaker SK Hynix advanced 3.45 percent to 84,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 3.93 points, or 0.44 percent, to 881.45. The tech-heavy index ended in negative terrain for the first time in four sessions, weighed on by weak pharmaceutical shares and a 0.4 percent decline in the U.S. Nasdaq Biotech Index.

Institutions and foreigners were net sellers, offloading 97.3 billion won and 35.2 billion won each. Individuals bought a net 132.3 billion won, keeping the index from falling lower.

The local currency closed at 1,069.5 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.2 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year bonds shed 0.9 basis points to 2.16 percent, and the return on 10-year government bonds decreased 1.6 basis points to 2.58 percent.

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