Obama says Korea-U.S. alliance 'remains as strong as ever'

Seoul shares close higher on improved economic outlook

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Published : 2014-01-16 20:47
Updated : 2014-01-16 20:47

South Korean stocks closed higher Thursday following improved economic assessments by the World Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve, analysts said. The Korean won closed lower against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 4.04 points, or 0.21 percent, to 1,957.32. Trading volume was moderate at 373.2 million shares worth 3.37 trillion won ($3.17 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 447 to 338.

Analysts said Seoul shares gathered ground as investors’ sentiment got a boost from the World Bank Group’s prediction that the global economy will expand 3.2 percent on-year in 2014, improving from the 2.4 percent growth tallied last year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book released overnight also lent support to the growth, saying that the world’s No. 1 economy is expanding at a “moderate” pace, analysts added.

“Also, the Bank of Japan is unlikely to come up with an additional monetary easing move next week due to its trade deficits,” said Cho Byung-hyun, an analyst at Tongyang Securities Co.

The South Korean won’s rise to the yen has been sparking worries over the earnings of local exporters, as it inflicts foreign exchange losses and makes local goods more expensive overseas.

“As the U.S. central bank is also unlikely to come up with an additional quantitative easing plan, the (local stock market’s) growth trend will continue for the time being,” Cho added.

Foreigners and institutions scooped up a net 3.6 billion won and 49.9 billion worth of Seoul shares on the main bourse, respectively. Individual investors, in contrast, offloaded a net 65 billion won.

Tech shares closed mostly higher, with market behemoth Samsung Electronics rising 0.15 percent to 1,301,000 won and its smaller rival LG Electronics advancing 0.58 percent to 69,100 won. But top chipmaker SK hynix shed 0.27 percent to 36,550 won.

Builders gathered ground, with Hyundai Engineering & Construction adding 2.26 percent to 58,700 won and Daelim Industrial moving up 1.33 percent to 83,900 won. Daewoo Engineering & Construction closed unchanged at 6,400 won.

NAVER, the country’s top Internet portal operator, gained 3.9 percent to 720,000 won as foreigners scooped up its shares.

Carmakers closed mixed, with Hyundai Motor adding 0.87 percent to 233,000 won while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors lost 0.58 percent to 51,500 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis climbed 0.54 percent to 281,500 won.

The local currency ended at 1,063.40 won to the U.S. dollar, down 0.70 won from Wednesday’s close. (Yonhap News)

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