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Seoul stocks close higher on institutional buying

South Korean stocks closed higher Friday, pulling away from the previous session's near one-week low, as institutional buyers scooped up steel and chemical shares. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained 8.65 points, or 0.36 percent, to close at 2,395.45. Trade volume was modest at 270.62 million shares worth 4.9 trillion won ($4.5 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 468 to 335.


Analysts said Seoul stocks built up as chemical and steel sectors rose, but further gains were limited as foreign investors continued to offload large-cap tech shares.

Institutions were net buyers by snatching up 214.2 billion won to extend a two-day buying spree while foreign and individual buyers offloaded a net 163.2 billion won and 94.2 billion worth of local stocks, respectively.

"Foreign investors continued to sell local tech shares following the overnight U.S. tech shares' slump," said Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoon Securities Co. On Thursday (local time), the broad-based S&P shed 0.2 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.4 percent.

Most large caps on the Seoul bourse closed mixed.

Steel and chemical shares closed higher, with leading steelmaker POSCO closing at 334,000 won, up 1.21 percent. LG Chem, the country's top chemical firm, added 4.1 percent to 342,500 won, and No. 2 player Lotte Chemical jumped 4.78 percent to 394,500 won.

Tech shares ended bearish, with top cap Samsung Electronics ending at 2,385,000 won, down 0.17 percent. LG Display, a major flat panel display maker, lost 0.8 percent to 30,850 won and computer chip manufacturer SK hynix, also shed 2.29 percent to 64,000 won.

Shares of local drugmaker Green Cross tumbled 24.78 percent to end at 13,050 won.

The local currency closed at 1,128,80 won against the US dollar, up 4.80 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year bonds added 0.5 basis point to 1.742 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year debts moved down 0.5 basis point to 1.949 percent. (Yonhap)

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