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Stocks are steady as investors sit on sidelines

Jan 18,2019
Korean shares barely moved Thursday as investors took to the sidelines amid renewed concerns over global trade tensions. The Korean won depreciated against the dollar.

The benchmark Kospi inched 0.96 points, or 0.05 percent, higher to 2,107.06, closing in positive territory for the third consecutive session. Trading volume was moderate at 464.81 million shares worth 5.66 trillion won ($5.05 billion).

Foreigners scooped up shares for the seventh consecutive session, buying a net 230.3 billion won worth. Institutional investors offloaded a net 205.1 billion won, and retail investors sold a net 15.3 billion won worth of local stocks.

“Signs of dovish steps by the U.S. Federal Reserve and China’s stimulus, along with fair quarterly earnings by U.S. firms, appear to have boosted investor sentiment,” said Ha In-hwan, an analyst at SK Securities.

“But news of a criminal case sought by the United States against Huawei has renewed concerns over trade relations between Washington and Beijing,” he noted.

Large-cap tech shares ended higher.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 1.21 percent to 41,950 won, and major chipmaker SK Hynix edged up 0.15 percent at 64,900 won.

Auto shares also ended in positive territory, with Hyundai Motor closing 0.78 percent higher at 129,500 won and Kia Motors adding 0.29 percent to 34,950 won. Auto-parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis surged 3.50 percent to 207,000 won.

Chemical shares were losers in the index.

LG Chem retreated 1.64 percent to 360,000 won, and major cosmetics firm LG Household & Health Care fell 1.05 percent to 1,134,000 won. AmorePacific fell 4.64 percent to 174,500 won.

Bio shares also fell. Samsung BioLogics sank 3.26 percent to 386,000 won, and pharmaceutical giant Celltrion dropped 3.22 percent to 195,500 won.

Leading steelmaker Posco inched down 0.19 percent to 263,000 won.

The secondary Kosdaq fell 7.03 points, or 1.01 percent, to close the session at 686.35. The tech and bio-heavy index was weighed down by a 0.82 percent decline in the U.S. Philadelphia Semiconductor Index overnight. Foreign investors have been net sellers in the junior bourse for two consecutive sessions.

The Korean won closed at 1,122.50 won against the dollar, up 2.40 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year bonds fell 0.8 basis points to 1.80 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds declined 0.6 basis points to 1.98 percent.

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