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Stocks drop third day in a row on trade doubt

Mar 06,2019
Stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors remained cautious over a possible trade deal between the United States and China, analysts said. The Korean won declined against the dollar.

The benchmark Kospi shed 11.43 points, or 0.52 percent, to finish at 2,179.23. Trading volume was low at 308.8 million shares worth 4.91 trillion won ($4.36 billion).

The index opened lower following Wall Street losses and fell further. It has lost ground for three straight sessions.

Individuals bought a net 244-billion-won worth of stocks and foreign investors sold a net 156.8-billion-won worth of shares. Institutions sold a net 91.8 billion won of stocks.

“Despite media reports that the signing of a trade deal between the United States and China is imminent, investors are still cautious and remain leery of details of the potential agreement,” said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said trade talks with China “can fall apart at the last minute,” though he expressed optimism about a “successful” deal. On Tuesday, Chinese officials also said the two sides are still working on details as there are multiple unresolved issues.

Major tech and chemical shares in Seoul came under downward pressure.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics sank 1.34 percent to 44,250 won, while SK Hynix, the world’s No. 2 chipmaker, moved down 0.57 percent to 69,700 won.

Top chemical firm LG Chem dropped 3.49 percent to 373,500 won, and Posco skidded 3.04 won to 255,500 won.

Auto shares also declined. Hyundai Motor fell 0.41 percent to 121,500 won, and Kia Motors retreated 1.69 percent to 34,850 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis also fell 1.18 percent to 210,000 won.

Yet bio shares rose to limit the downfall. Celltrion surged 1.20 percent to 210,000 won, and Samsung BioLogics advanced 1.46 percent to 382,000 won.

S-Oil added 1.49 percent to 102,000 won, and SK Innovation increased 2.45 percent to 188,000 won.

The Kosdaq fell 0.12 points, or 0.02 percent, to end the session at 747.95. Foreign and institutional investors sold IT and semiconductor shares.

The Korean won closed at 1,125.50 won against the dollar, up 0.6 won from Monday’s close.

Bond prices remained unchanged. The yield on three-year bonds was unchanged at 1.84 percent. The yield on 10-year bonds was unchanged at 2.03 percent.

BY KIM HE-YU, YONHAP [kim.heyu@joongang.co.kr]