South Korean stocks fell 0.91 percent Friday as foreign investors dumped large caps amid poorer corporate earnings and a gloomy outlook for this year, analysts said. The local currency fell sharply against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 17.79 points to finish at 1,946.69. Trading volume was light at 395.9 million shares worth 4.97 trillion won (US$4.63 billion) with losers outnumbering winners 497 to 308.
"The poorer-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings of automakers weighed heavily on the market," said Kwak Joong-bo, a senior market analyst at Samsung Securities Co. "Foreign investors unloaded a large amount of local stocks, especially tech and car shares."
Foreigners are worried that a steep drop in the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar will undermine South Korean firms' price advantages in overseas markets, Kwak said.
Foreigners dumped a net 515.3 billion won worth of shares, while retail investors scooped up a 353.8 billion won.
Shares closed bearish across the board, led by losses in techs and cars.
Samsung Electronics, the world's top smartphone maker, sank 2.48 percent to 1,471,000 won as the strengthening local currency was forecast to hurt its future profits despite its record high operating profit of 8.84 trillion won for the fourth quarter of last year.
LG Display, a screen supplier for Apple, slid 2.45 percent to 27,850 won after the iPhone maker's shares plunged overnight.
Kia Motors, South Korea's second-biggest carmaker, slumped 4.88 percent to close at 49,750 won after reporting its fourth-quarter operating profit plunged more than 50 percent amid a sharp appreciation of the won. Top automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 3.37 percent to 201,000 won.
The local currency ended at 1,074.50 won against the greenback, down 5.8 won from Thursday's close, as investors reduced their holdings of local equities, dealers said. (Yonhap)