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Seoul stocks inch down as investors cash out

May 30,2018
Korean stocks closed lower Tuesday as foreign and institutional investors went on a selling spree to lock in recent gains. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi dropped 21.71 points, or 0.88 percent, to close at 2,457.25. Trade volume was relatively heavy at 8.43 trillion won ($7.83 billion).

The index started lower, dragged down by losses in large-cap steel and construction shares, and retreated further in late afternoon due to heavy selling by foreign and institutional investors.

Shares related to economic cooperation between the two Koreas have been on a roller coaster ride after U.S. President Donald Trump called off his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week and later suggested that it could still take place as originally scheduled.

“The index declined as investors opted to cash in recent gains when there was a lack of momentum to lead the market,” said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment.

Foreign investors sold a net 212 billion won and institutions offloaded a net 137 billion won worth of local stocks, while retail investors bought a net 310 billion won, keeping the index from going further south.

Construction and steel shares fell.

Top steelmaker Posco fell 1.41 percent to 349,000 won, and Hyundai Steel plunged 6.1 percent to 63,100 won.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction dipped 5.44 percent to 74,800 won, and GS Engineering & Construction also nosedived 7.07 percent to 47,950 won.

Other large-cap shares ended mixed. Market kingpin Samsung Electronics fell 1.91 percent to close at 51,300 won, while SK Hynix edged up 0.32 percent to 94,800 won.

No. 1 carmaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.08 percent to 140,000 won, while pharmaceutical giant Celltrion fell 0.18 percent to 270,500 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 9.61 points, or 1.09 percent, to 870.08. The tech-heavy index also closed in negative terrain, led by losses in construction, metal and transport shares.

Foreigners sold a net 21.6 billion won while institutions offloaded a net 34.8 billion won. Individuals bought a net 53.8 billion won.

The local currency closed at 1,076.80 won against the U.S. dollar, up 2.6 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year bonds fell 1.9 basis points to 2.19 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds declined 3.3 basis points to 2.69 percent.

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