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Kospi inches down as foreigners pursue profits

May 16,2018
Korea’s main bourse closed lower as foreigners dumped local shares for the second consecutive session. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi edged down 17.57 points, or 0.71 percent, to 2,458.54. Trade volume was high at 9.28 trillion won ($8.64 billion).

Kospi shares mainly lost ground as foreigners and institutions offloaded local shares, although the market initially opened higher on the rising hope over settlement of the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

“The upward trend was limited as some officials from the U.S. hinted that there is still more room for negotiation,” said Kim Byong-yeon, a researcher at NH Investment & Securities.

Foreigners sold a net 239 billion won, with institutions also offloading a net 187 billion won. Retail investors were net buyers at 386 billion won.

Tech shares closed bearish, with Samsung Electronics falling 1.8 percent to 49,200 won. LG Electronics moved down 0.92 percent to 96,600 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix shed 0.94 percent to 84,600 won.

Chemical shares also traded lower, with LG Chem falling 1.69 percent to 348,500 won and LG Household & Health Care losing 1.01 percent to 1,277,000 won. Amorepacific slipped 1.52 percent to 323,500 won.

Brokerage houses closed down, with Mirae Asset Daewoo falling 1.96 percent to 10,000 won and Samsung Securities losing 1.31 percent to 37,550 won.

Pharmaceutical shares traded higher, with Celltrion advancing 5.1 percent to 268,000 won and Samsung BioLogics moving up 5.43 percent to 388,500 won. Hanmi Pharmaceutical added 3.04 percent to 474,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq climbed 4.24 points, or 0.49 percent, to 862.94. The tech-heavy index was buoyed by the addition of shares of four Kosdaq-listed companies to Morgan Stanley Capital International’s MSCI Korea index.

Institutions were net buyers, purchasing 57.1 billion won more than they sold. Foreigners and individuals were net sellers, each offloading 36.1 billion won and 26.3 billion won.

By sector, transport and retail shares each rose 4.7 percent and 3.8 percent. Semiconductors gained 0.7 percent.

The local currency closed at 1,073.80 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.8 won from the previous session.

Bond prices ended lower. The yield on three-year bonds gained 0.3 basis point to 2.31 percent, and the return on 10-year government bonds rose 1.9 basis points to 2.81 percent.

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