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Stocks decline on foreigners’ profit-taking

Foreign investors ended a 12-day buying streak Friday, weighing on South Korea’s benchmark index.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed 10.35 points, or 0.5 percent, lower at 2,076.79 on profit taking of foreign investors who net-sold 106.6 billion won ($90.75 million) in shares Friday.

Foreigners ended the buying spree that continued for 12 consecutive sessions through Thursday. Foreign investors had continued to scoop up Korean stocks despite a strengthening US dollar, which usually makes assets nominated in Korean won less attractive.

Massive buying by institutional investors -- a net of 162.8 billion won -- reduced the downward trend Friday.

South Korean stock markets faced domestic and overseas news that could hurt investors’ sentiment.

The Nasdaq composite fell for the first time this year Thursday, while the S&P and Dow 30 also declined after President-elect Donald Trump provided little in the way of detail about his economic policies at a press conference on Wednesday.

Friday’s downward movement coincided with the Bank of Korea’s decision to maintain its key interest rate and cut its economic growth outlook. The central bank said the country would grow at about 2.5 percent this year, lower than 2.8 percent projected in October last year.

Samsung Electronics, which hit a record high on the previous trading session, lost 3.45 percent, or 67,000 won, to 1.873 million won Friday, ending its winning streak that had lasted five consecutive days after the company announced an earnings surprise. On Friday, local media reported the Samsung Electronics vice chairman and de facto head of Samsung Group could face bribery charges. The special investigation team on the influence-peddling scandal that has rocked the nation investigated the tycoon for 22 hours as a suspect Thursday and Friday.

In the first two weeks of the year, Kospi added 2.48 percent. The tech-heavy Kosdaq index edged up 0.29 percent to 634.68 points on Friday, ending the first two weeks of 2017 with a 0.51 percent gain. 

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)

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