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Seoul stocks inch up as foreigners go shopping

Dec 18,2018
Korean shares closed higher on Monday as foreign investors picked up shares ahead of the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve rate meeting on Tuesday. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi inched 1.71 points, or 0.08 percent, higher to end the session at 2,071.09. Trading volume was moderate at 438.22 million shares worth 4.63 trillion won ($4.1 billion).

“It is unlikely that the U.S. Federal Reserve maintains its hawkish stance due to concerns over the slowing economy and trade disputes with China and uncertainties in Europe,” said Baek Chan-gyu, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities. “The stock market is expected to show limited movement until uncertainties are somewhat cleared.”

Foreign investors turned net buyers, scooping up a net 65.4 billion won, and institutional investors also picked up a net 204.4 billion won worth of local shares. Meanwhile, retail investors offloaded a net 258.7 billion won worth of shares.

Major tech shares ended in positive territory.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics climbed 0.51 percent to 39,150 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix added 0.65 percent to 62,200 won.

Leading steelmaker Posco ended 1.57 percent higher at 258,000 won.

Auto-related shares mostly rose as auto-parts maker Hyundai Mobis advanced 1.01 percent to 201,000 won, and Kia Motors closed 1.85 percent higher to 33,100 won. Leading chemical company LG Chem stayed at the previous session’s close of 351,500 won.

Bio shares were mixed as pharmaceutical giant Celltrion rose 3.13 percent to 214,500 won, while Samsung biopharmaceutical unit Samsung BioLogics tumbled 4.85 percent to 372,500 won.

Meanwhile, refiners were losers in the session as industry leader SK Innovation declined 1.08 percent to 182,500 won, and S-Oil dropped 3.17 percent to 107,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell, dropping 4.44 points, or 0.67 percent, at 661.90. The tech and bio-heavy index was dragged down by a 1.84 percent decline in the U.S. Nasdaq Biotechnology Index on Friday. Institutions have been net sellers for three consecutive sessions in the junior bourse.

The Korean won closed at 1,131.30 won against the greenback, up 0.50 won from the previous trading session’s close.

Bond prices ended lower. The return on three-year bonds added 1.4 basis points to 1.80 percent and the yield on 10-year bonds rose 0.2 basis points to 2.00 percent.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN, YONHAP [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]