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Seoul stocks weather Japan quake impact

South Korean stocks closed 0.8 percent higher on Monday as big gains by electronics and steelmakers helped offset jitters over Japan’s massive earthquake, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark KOSPI advanced 15.69 points to 1,971.23 after falling as much as 1.2 percent at one point. Trading volume was moderate at 384.1 million shares, worth 9.4 trillion won ($8.3 billion), with losers far outnumbering gainers 650 to 204.

In late-morning trade, investors were spooked by reports of an increasing number of victims from Friday’s 9-magnitude earthquake and a consequent tsunami that swept through the northeastern cost of Japan.

“But foreign investors kept their net buying mode throughout the session, encouraging other investors to come back to the market,” said Lee Kyung-soo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.

Electronics, steelmakers and automakers sharply surged as the industries are expected to see sales growth due to their Japanese rivals’ damages from the natural disaster.

Air carriers and shipbuilders, however, plunged heavily due to potential sales erosion from the earthquake.

“Fates remarkably differed between industries to win from the Japanese quake and those to lose from it,” the analyst said.

Electronics giants Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, which compete with Japanese handset and TV makers, jumped 4.41 percent to 900,000 won and 4.29 percent to 36,500 won, respectively.

Hynix, the second-largest semiconductor maker after Samsung Electronics, climbed 8.66 percent to close at 30,100 won.

POSCO, the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker, soared 8.32 percent to 488,000 won, with smaller rival Hyundai Steel advancing 10.12 percent to 136,000 won.

The biggest local oil refinery, SK Innovation, gained 6.72 percent to 198,500 won.

Top air carrier Korean Air, however, slumped 7.33 percent to 56,900 won, and smaller firm Asiana Airlines slid 10.64 percent to 8,900 won as the quake is feared to erode profits from their routes to Japan.

Third-largest shipmaker Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering dived 5.07 percent to 29,000 won with heavy equipment maker Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction skidding 10.77 percent to end at 58,000 won.
 
(Yonhap News)

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