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Seoul shares inch down on foreign selloff


South Korean stocks slid 0.2 percent Monday on foreign selling spurred by worse-than-expected quarterly growth in the United States, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
   
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 3.86 points to close at 1,940.70. Trading volume was light at 260.8 million shares worth 3.59 trillion won (US$3.23 billion) with losers outstripping gainers 426 to 374.
  
"Investors stayed on the sidelines as there were no leads to drive up the market and offset the negative impact from the U.S. growth data," said Lee Kyung-soo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co.
  
Washington last week posted a 2.5 percent on-year expansion for the first three months of this year, lower than the market consensus of 3 percent.
  
"What has boosted market sentiment was the fact that the U.S. economy is improving, but the first-quarter growth data sapped such hopes," Lee added.
  
Foreigners unloaded a net 173.3 billion won in the main bourse, extending its losing streak for 11 sessions. Institutions, in contrast, snapped up a net 151.7 billion won.
  
Large tech firms and banking groups drove down the KOSPI. Top-cap Samsung Electronics fell 0.34 percent to 1,481,000 won and flat panel giant LG Display retreated 1.64 percent to 30,050 won.
  
South Korea's major banking groups finished bearish on lackluster earnings. No. 4 Shinhan Financial Group dropped 2.55 percent to 38,250 won and Woori Finance Group, the country's largest, sank 1.26 percent to 11,750 won.
  
Shares of STX Group, a shipping and shipbuilding conglomerate, dove 8.21 percent to 3,020 won, following media reports that its building unit STX Engineering & Construction filed for court receivership. The news came only days after its shipbuilding arm STX Offshore & Shipbuilding was injected with 600 billion won in emergency funds from its creditor banks to prevent bankruptcy.
  
In contrast, domestic-related issues gained ground, with retail giant E-Mart shooting up 4.87 percent to 215,500 won and smallest mobile carrier LG Uplus surging 4.24 percent to 9,830 won.
   
The local currency ended at 1,107.20 won against the greenback, up 5.05 won from Friday's close, amid worries over a slow U.S. economic recovery, dealers said.
   
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasuries stayed flat at 2.52 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds edged up 0.01 percentage point to 2.59 percent. (Yonhap News)

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