South Korean stocks closed slightly higher on Monday thanks to gains in blue chips, even though investors took to the sidelines on jitters over the U.S. economy.
The South Korean won gained against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 0.04 percent, or 0.80 points, to 1923.30. Trading volume on the main market came to 205.33 million shares worth 3.15 trillion won ($2.9 billion), with advancers outnumbering decliners 456 to 356.
The market started higher on last week’s gains on Wall Street but soon turned bearish due to losses in blue chips like tech behemoth Samsung Electronics. The benchmark KOSPI reentered positive territory in late morning trading as blue chips recouped their losses on institutional and retail investors’ buying. The index, however, ended nearly flat as woes over the U.S. economy dampened investor sentiment.
“Investor sentiment was disheartened by gloomy figures on the U.S. economy, such as jobs growth in January,” said Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at I’M Securities & Investment Co.
The U.S. government said Friday its economy added 113,000 jobs in January, lower than expected, although the unemployment rate edged down to 6.6 percent.
The payroll figure stoked concerns that the U.S. economy may lose its steam after a strong growth in the second half of 2013.
Market leader Samsung Electronics rose 0.16 percent to 1,277,000 won, but the world’s second-largest chipmaker SK Hynix fell 0.76 percent to 39,000 won.
Financials were battered by foreign selling. KB Financial Group fell 2.16 percent to 36,300 won, and Shinhan Financial Group dropped 3.39 percent to 42,800 won.
However, autos were in the positive terrain as institutional investors scooped them up. Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.3 percent to 233,500 won, and top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis rose 1.13 percent to 313,000 won.
Shipbuilders were among the advancers on massive institutional buying. Hyundai Heavy Industries rose 2.87 percent to 215,000 won, and Samsung Heavy Industries 4.52 percent to 33,550 won.
The local currency ended at 1,071.20 won to the U.S. dollar, up 3.10 won from Friday’s close as exporters converted the dollar holdings into the won. (Yonhap)