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Stocks fall, won gains on Trump’s comments

July 24,2018
Korean stocks fell Monday, as investor sentiment was dragged down by falling Chinese stocks and intensifying trade tensions between the United States and China. The Korean won appreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi shed 19.88 points, or 0.87 percent, to close at 2,269.31. Trade volume was moderate at 5.4 trillion won ($4.77 billion).

Investors stayed on the sidelines after U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday renewed his threat to slap tariffs on $500 billion worth of imports from China. Trump also expressed his discomfort with the U.S. dollar’s strength and accused Beijing and the European Union of manipulating their currencies, prompting the greenback to lose value against other major currencies.

“A currency war is looming, as Trump expressed concerns over the strong dollar and criticized the weak yuan,” said Park Sang-hyun, an analyst at Leading Investment & Securities.

Foreigners dumped a net 32.5 billion won while individuals shed a net 140.3 billion won worth of local shares. Institutions scooped up a net 233 billion won.

Tech heavyweights slumped, as analysts expect DRAM prices to plateau in the third quarter following a super cycle in the memory chip sector.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics retreated 2 percent to 46,500 won and SK Hynix, a major chipmaker, tumbled 7.05 percent to 81,700 won. Bio shares also fell. Celltrion, a pharmaceutical giant, plunged 6.3 percent to 267,500 won and Samsung BioLogics fell 2.36 percent to 414,500 won.

Auto shares advanced. Hyundai Motor rose 1.97 percent to 129,500 won after its management and labor agreed to a tentative wage deal for this year, the shortest wage negotiations in eight years. Its sister company, Kia Motors, increased 0.93 percent to 32,500 won.

Posco, the nation’s leading steelmaker, jumped 3.59 percent to 317,000 won on strong earnings in the second quarter.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 34.65 points, or 4.38 percent, to 756.96 on weak pharmaceutical shares. The tech and bio-heavy index fell on weak investor confidence in Asian pharmaceutical shares after China’s CSI Health Care Index plunged following news that a Chinese children’s vaccine manufacturer had been faking production and inspection data.

The Korean won closed at 1,131.40 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.3 won from the end of last week.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended on a mixed note. The yield on three-year bonds remained unchanged at 2.08 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds gained 1.3 basis points to 2.54 percent.

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