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Kospi slides on pessimistic first day of trading

Jan 03,2019
Korean stocks closed lower Wednesday as gloomy economic data threw a wet blanket over the first day of trading for 2019. The Korean won depreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi dropped 31.04 points, or 1.52 percent, to end at 2,010.00. This is the lowest closing price since Oct. 29, when it finished at 1,996.05.

Trade volume was light at 321.8 million shares worth 4.24 trillion won ($3.79 billion).

Korea’s exports retreated 1.2 percent on year in December, while China’s manufacturing activities for December failed to meet the market consensus, creating concerns about a global economic slowdown.

“We received the latest unfavorable data,” said Cho Byung-hyun from Yuanta Securities Korea. “With the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, a growing number of people are worried that the economy is in the doldrums.”

Foreign investors sold a net 26.2 billion won worth of shares and institutional investors offloaded a net 302.3 billion won. Retail investors were net buyers, picking up a net 309.4 billion won worth of shares.

Pessimism was felt across the board.

Hyundai Motor, the largest automaker, tumbled 3.80 percent to 114,000 won, and its sister company, Kia Motors, fell 2.67 percent to 32,800 won. Auto parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis sank 2.63 percent to 185,000 won.

Leading oil refiner SK Innovation dropped 5.85 percent to 169,000 won and S-Oil slid 6.55 percent to 91,300 won.

Cosmetics firms were among the biggest losers, with AmorePacific plunging 7.64 percent to 193,500 won and LG Household & Health Care declining 1.82 percent to 1,081,000 won.

Meanwhile, top electronics shares ended in positive terrain.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics inched up 0.13 percent to close the session at 38,750 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix also edged 0.17 percent higher to 60,600 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 6.28 points, or 0.93 percent, to end the session at 669.37. The tech and bio-heavy index was dragged down by institutional and foreign selling despite a 0.85 percent rise in the U.S. Nasdaq Composite Index on Dec. 31.

The Korean won closed at 1,119.00 won against the greenback, up 3.30 won from the previous session.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended mixed. The yield on three-year bonds fell 1.5 basis points to 1.80 percent, while the return on 10-year bonds remained unchanged at 1.95 percent.

BY KIM HEYU, YONHAP [kim.heyu@joongang.co.kr]