The Korea Herald


Seoul shares end marginally higher on China’s reserve easing

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 20, 2012 - 18:46

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South Korean stocks finished slightly higher on Monday as China’s reserve ratio cut boosted investor sentiment, analysts said, but financial firms’ losses trimmed overall gains. The local currency rose against the greenback.

After rising as much as 1.18 percent, the benchmark KOSPI added 0.07 percent, or 1.43 points, to end at 2,024.9. Trading volume was heavy at 723 million shares worth 5.96 trillion won ($5.29 billion) with gainers leading losers 464 to 372.

In the early morning, the KOSPI got a boost from the news that China’s central bank again lowered the reserve requirement for banks to stimulate the economy, joining central banks across the globe in extending monetary easing measures to weather the downturn.

But institutional investors locked in profits, trimming earlier gains.

“Institutional selling weighed on the key index as fund redemption demand rose,” said Kwak Joong-bo, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co. “Foreign investors also turned net sellers in the stock futures market.”

Big-cap financial companies and tech exporters widened losses during the afternoon trade. The state-run Industrial Bank of Korea slumped 3.33 percent to 13,050 won after reporting a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings.

Hana Financial Group dipped 0.24 percent to 41,400 won after it reached an agreement with the labor union of the Korea Exchange Bank, its recently acquired subsidiary. The KEB fell 0.61 percent to 8,110 won.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics edged 0.09 percent down to 1,175,000 won after the company said it will spin off its LCD division into a separate company.

Shipbuilders and steelmakers, however, ended firm. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder, gained 1.09 percent to 325,000 won and leading steelmaker POSCO climbed 0.73 percent to 413,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,123.5 won to the greenback, up 2.1 won from Friday’s close, as Greek rescue hope stoked investor sentiment for risks, dealers said. 

(Yonhap News)