The Korea Herald


Seoul stocks down on profit-taking

By 황장진

Published : Jan. 20, 2011 - 18:28

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Korean stocks ended 0.43 percent lower on Thursday on profit-taking and worries over China’s further monetary tightening, analysts said. The local currency dropped against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) declined 9.03 percent to 2,106.66, retreating from an all-time high of 2,115.69 a day earlier. Trading volume was moderate at 328.8 million shares worth 6.4 trillion won ($5.7 billion), with losers outpacing winners 461 to 361.

“The market retreat came as investors, mainly foreigners, scrambled to cash in after the key index renewed its record high,” said Lee Jae-hoon, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities.

“Worries over China’s tightening actions, triggered by last week’s hike in the bank reserve ratio and upward global inflation pressure, prodded investors to lock in profits,” Lee said.

Foreign investors continued to sell off local shares, extending their net selling streak to the fifth session.

Heavyweight tech shares lost ground after showing the strongest performance across the board. Electronics and semiconductor giant Samsung Electronics slid 1.5 percent to 982,000 won after closing at an all-time high a day earlier.

Shipmakers also lost ground, reversing recent gains. The world’s second-largest shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries plunged 2.98 percent to settle at 43,950 won.

Banking groups ended the session sharply lower, tracking U.S. financial giant Goldman Sachs’ deep fall that followed the announcement of a 53 percent cut in its fourth-quarter on-year profit.

The country’s largest banking group Woori Finance Holdings closed at 15,550 won, down 1.27 percent.

Airlines, however, added gains on expectations that the country’s strengthening currency may help reduce costs for their fuel imports. Asiana Airlines shot up 4.76 percent to 11,000 won.

Korea Express, the country’s biggest logistics firm, gained 1.28 percent to 119,500 won as its shareholders beefed up efforts to sell a major stake in the company.

The local currency closed at 1,119.5 won to the U.S. dollar, down 9.2 won from Wednesday’s close, as foreign investors pulled money due to emerging countries’ monetary tightening aimed at curbing inflation. 

(Yonhap News)