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Korean stocks remain almost flat despite U.S. fall

South Korean stocks closed almost flat on Monday as gains by steelmakers, shipbuilders and tech helped offset a decline in autos and telecom shares. The South Korean won closed lower against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index moved up 1.61 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,989.70. Trading volume was light at 182 million shares worth 3.59 trillion won ($3.42 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 510 to 286.

The index opened lower, tracking Friday’s fall in the U.S. stock market. Investors also opted to lock in gains from the past few days.

However, in the afternoon session, the index pared losses on gains in steel, shipbuilders and tech shares.

On Friday, the U.S. stocks, particularly the tech stocks, came under heavy selling pressure with the Dow Jones industrial average falling 0.96 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 2.6 percent.

“The fall in U.S. stocks is providing a chance to investors who are tempted to lock in parts of gains seen in the past few days,” said Lim Noh-joong, an analyst at I’M Investment & Securities. “But foreign investors’ buying prevented the index from remaining in the negative terrain.”

Foreigners scooped up a net 160 billion won, and individual investors bought a net 70 billion won. Institutions, however, sold 212 billion won.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics rose 1.23 percent to 1,397,000 won as the world’s largest smartphone maker is due to release its first-quarter earnings guidance on Tuesday.

Chipmaker SK hynix lost 0.67 percent to end at 37,000 won. LG Electronics, Samsung’s smaller rival, rose 2.84 percent to close at 68,800 won.

Shares of shipbuilders climbed. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest, soared 3.3 percent to end at 217,000 won, with Samsung Heavy Industries rising 1.42 percent to end at 32,050 won.

Naver, the operator of the country’s top Internet portal, dropped 6.46 percent to close at 739,000 won on news that its foreign rivals, including Facebook, sank on Friday on concerns that their stocks are overvalued.

Carmakers traded lower, with Hyundai Motor falling 0.4 percent to 246,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors decreasing 0.33 percent to 57,900 won.

The local currency ended at 1,055.15 won to the U.S. dollar, down 1.35 won from Friday’s close. (Yonhap)
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