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Seoul shares up on institutional buying

Korean stocks closed 0.59 percent higher on Monday as institutional investors hunted for bargains, analysts said. The local currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 12.24 points to 2,082.16. Trading volume was moderate at 335.1 million shares worth 6.01 trillion won ($5.37 billion), but losers outnumbered gainers 412 to 396.

“Institutional buying supported the market, overshadowing concerns about growing inflation risks and fourth-quarter corporate earnings,” said Bae Sung-young, a market analyst at Hyundai Securities Co.

Bae said investors are expected to focus on earnings results this week as key tech companies, including Samsung Electronics and chip giant Hynix Semiconductor, are scheduled to announce their bottom lines.

The KOSPI fell 1.74 percent on Friday as China’s monetary tightening moves spurred foreign selling. China said last week its economy grew 10.3 percent last year, picking up from 9.2 percent growth the previous year, adding to concerns about growing inflationary pressure.

Institutional investors snapped up a net 244.7 billion won worth of local stocks while foreign investors sold a net 131.6 billion won.

Shipbuilders gained ground. No. 2 shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. rose 1.63 percent to 40,550 won, and its rival Hyundai Mipo Dockyard added 1.11 percent to 228,000 won.

Flat panel giant LG Display rose 3.75 percent to 38,700 won despite its poor earnings. LG Display logged its first loss in nearly two years in the fourth quarter of last year on a price-fixing fine and weaker liquid crystal display prices. 

(Yonhap News)