South Korean stocks fell 0.65 percent to below the 2,000-point mark Thursday as investors sat on the sidelines ahead of key policy decisions in Europe and U.S. economic data. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index, after being closed for the local elections on Wednesday, started on the minus side and settled at 1,995.48, down 13.08 points from the previous session.
The reading below the psychologically important 2,000 mark was the first since 1,994.96 at the end of trading last week. It came ahead of another market closing Friday in observance of Memorial Day.
Trading volume was moderate at 216.04 million shares worth 5.07 trillion won ($4.95 billion), with decliners outnumbering advancers 503 to 314 with 67 staying pat.
Foreign investors bought more shares than they sold to mark the 18th straight net buying session, but institutions, another major player, remained jittery and offloaded their holdings before the European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting and upcoming U.S. employment figures.
“Uncertainties caused investors to generally sit on the sidelines, which caused the drop in the KOSPI,” said Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at I’M Securities & Investment.
The policy meeting that could outline Europe’s commitment to stimulating its economy is due out later in the day, while employment numbers will come out over the weekend.
Tech giant Samsung Electronics, the flagship company of Samsung Group, fell 0.88 percent to 1.45 million won per share. The loss came after the group’s listed companies single-handedly pushed up the stock market on Tuesday after the conglomerate’s de facto holding company announced it will go public in the first quarter of next year.
Other Samsung affiliates like Samsung C&T Corporation, one of the country’s largest builders, gained 3.14 percent to 78,800 won.
Tech companies such as global appliance manufacturer LG Electronics gained 0.39 percent to 76,600 won, with memory chip giant SK hynix adding 4.03 percent to 46,450 won, a 52-week high.
The country’s No. 1 carmaker Hyundai Motor lost 0.88 percent to 225,000 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors surrendered 1.74 percent to 56,600 won.
Stocks of top steelmaker POSCO were down 0.35 percent to 288,000 won while leading shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries dropped 1.62 percent to 182,500 won. The local currency ended at 1,020.5 won to the U.S. dollar, up 2.6 won from the previous session. (Yonhap)