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Seoul shares fall 1.27% on U.S., Greek strife

Korean stocks sank 1.27 percent on Thursday as investor sentiment was dented by downbeat U.S. economic data and a cut in Greece’s credit rating, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index tumbled 27.14 points to 2,114.2. Trading volume was moderate at 245.9 billion shares worth 7.19 trillion won ($6.7 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 612 to 205.

“Investors took to the sidelines following poor U.S. economic data. Worries that the U.S. economic recovery is slowing made investors jittery,” said Lee Kyung-soo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co. “A cut in Greece’s debt rating also weighed on investor sentiment.”

Moody’s Investors Service on Wednesday cut Greece’s credit rating by three notches to Caa1, retaining its negative outlook.

Shares lost ground across the board, with techs leading the decline. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 3.07 percent to 883,000 won, and its smaller rival LG Electronics fell 4.37 percent to 94,200 won.

Energy companies also ended bearish, weighed down by a fall in global oil costs. S-Oil, South Korea’s No. 3 oil refiner, dipped 0.65 percent to 154,000 won.

In contrast, builders outperformed the market, with GS Engineering & Construction gaining 2.6 percent to 118,500 won.

Hyundai Heavy Industries finished at 511,000 won, up 1.39 percent from Wednesday’s close. The top shipyard broke ground for a new industrial robot plant earlier in the day in a bid to strengthen its global foothold.

SK C&C, an affiliate of SK Telecom, jumped 4.98 percent to 137,000 won after announcing that it clinched a deal to provide its solution technology to Google’s mobile payment system.

The local currency closed at 1,080.7 won to the greenback, down 6.1 won from Wednesday’s close, as the weak U.S. data and persisting euro zone risks triggered a flight to safer assets, dealers said. 

(Yonhap News)