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Stocks flat as investors await corporate reports

July 23,2019
Stocks closed slightly lower Monday as lackluster export data weighed on investor sentiment ahead of the corporate earnings season. The won lost ground against the dollar.

The benchmark Kospi edged down 1.02 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,093.34. Trading volume was moderate at 320.41 million shares worth 3.15 trillion won ($2.67 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 481 to 320.

The index swung between gains and losses as investors took a cautious stance ahead of the second-quarter earnings releases by major companies amid rising concerns over Japan’s move to expand its export curbs against Korea.

Korea’s exports fell 13.6 percent in the first 20 days of July from a year earlier, customs data showed, heading to an eighth consecutive month of decline due to slumping memory chip sales and weak demand for its key export items.

Institutions and retail investors offloaded a net 167.82 billion won and 65.19 billion won, respectively, while foreign investors scooped up a net 233.3 billion won worth of local stocks.

“Though exports continued to suffer in July, foreign investors bought tech blue chips to remain net buyers for the sixth consecutive session,” said No Dong-gil, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities. “It seems like foreigners are betting DRAM [dynamic random access memory] prices will rebound, which could help South Korea’s exports.”

Tech shares were up as memory chip makers were the top picks among foreign investors. Major memory chip prices have jumped 25 percent in the past two weeks following Japan’s restrictions on exports of high-tech materials to Korea, according to market researcher DRAMeXchange.

Samsung Electronics rose 0.85 percent to 47,200 won, and SK Hynix advanced 2.08 percent to 78,400 won.

Auto stocks were down. Hyundai Motor retreated 1.12 percent to 133,000 won although it posted robust second-quarter net profit on a weak local currency and strong demand for SUVs. Hyundai Mobis shed 2.57 percent to 227,500 won. Samsung BioLogics, Samsung’s health care unit, increased 0.87 percent to 290,000 won after a Seoul court over the weekend rejected an arrest warrant for CEO Kim Tae-han, who is under suspicion of orchestrating accounting fraud.

The secondary Kosdaq gained 0.72 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 674.78.

The local currency closed at 1,178.3 won against the dollar, up 3.8 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower.

BY KO JUN-TAE, YONHAP [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]