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Seoul shares down 1.64 pct on N. Korean risks

 South Korean stocks slumped 1.64 percent on Friday as foreigners beefed up their net selling amid lingering North Korea risks, analysts said Friday. The local currency sank against the U.S. dollar.

   The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) tumbled 32.22 points to 1,927.23, extending its losing streak to a fifth straight session. Trading volume was moderate at 364.3 million shares worth 4.8 trillion won ($4.2 billion), with decliners far outnumbering gainers 639 to 171.

   "On top of growing concerns that North Korean risks will last longer, several domestic and global issues pummeled investor sentiment," said Hanyang Securities Co. analyst Lim Dong-lak, noting poor U.S. jobs data and Japan's bigger-than-expected quantitative easing plan.

   "But Samsung Electronics' consensus-beating earnings guidance may help ease worries on the upcoming earnings season," said Lim.

   Earlier in the day, the South Korean tech giant estimated its quarterly operating profit for the first quarter, a traditionally slow season for electronics products, at 8.7 trillion won.

   Large caps lost ground across the board. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics slipped 0.07 percent to 1,505,000 won despite the rosy earnings estimate.

   Autos were one of the biggest decliners. The country's top automaker Hyundai Motor tumbled 4.35 percent to 198,000 won following a major vehicle recall in South Korea and the United States. Its parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis also lost 4.81 percent to 287,000 won.

   POSCO, the country's leading steelmaker, fell 2.65 percent to 312,500 won.

   In contrast, Samsung Heavy Industries outperformed the main index after clinching a $900 million deal to deliver four LNG vessels for Nigerian firm Bonny Gas Transport. The shipbuilder rose 0.91 percent to 33,200 won.

   Defensive shares also helped limit losses, with confectionery maker Orion gaining 0.92 percent to 1,100,000 won.

   The local currency closed at 1,131.8 won against the U.S. dollar, down 8 won from Thursday's close, due to concerns over continued North Korea threats, dealers said.

   Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year Treasuries fell 0.04 percentage point to 2.44 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds slipped 0.03 percentage point to 2.54 percent. (Yonhap News)

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