South Korea’s main stock market surrendered ground for the second straight day Thursday as the market was jolted by disappointing manufacturing data from China and concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve may move to hike up interest rates. The South Korean won declined against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index started on shaky ground and ended the day at 1,930.57, a 0.64 percent, or 12.36 points, loss from Wednesday’s close.
Trading volume was relatively light at 228.82 million shares, with 3.82 trillion won ($3.56 billion) worth of stocks changing hands. Prices for 355 listed companies rose, while 452 fell and 68 remained flat.
Foreign investors and institutions all offloaded more shares than they bought, with only private investors being net buyers.
“The shock coming out of China played a role in the drop although lack of any real upward momentum contributed to the weak showing,” said Lim Dong-rak, a researcher at Hanyang Securities Co.
The HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index data for China, released during the trading session, showed a seven-month low in February.
The expert added that the release of the Fed’s latest policy meeting minutes poured cold water on the market.
Some hawkish policymakers called for raising key interest rates, the minutes said, spelling trouble for emerging markets already hurt by Washington’s move to reduce its stimulus program.
“Most local analysts do not think a rate hike is likely this year, yet the likelihood that such comments will come up in future policy meetings adds another level of uncertainty that is not good for the KOSPI,” Lim said.
Reflecting the drop, market leader Samsung Electronics gave up 0.31 percent to 1,286,000 won, with Naver, the country’s top Internet portal, plunging 8.13 percent to 689,000 won.
Autos, rattled by the weak Japanese yen, gave ground with Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s No. 1 carmaker, standing at 222,000 won, down 1.55 percent from the day before. Its smaller affiliate Kia Motors dropped 1.69 percent to 52,300 won.
Steelmaker POSCO was down 0.68 percent to 291,000 won, with Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, losing ground by 0.91 percent to 217,500 won.
Telecommunications and construction, on the other hand, did relatively well, with SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile operator, jumping 3.47 percent to 208,500 won. Hyundai E&C was up 1.55 percent to 58,800 won. The company, the largest builder in the country, reported securing several large-scale overseas orders.
The local currency ended at 1,072.20 won to the U.S. dollar, down 6.70 won from the previous session. (Yonhap)