The Korea Herald


Seoul shares close almost flat on global events

By KH디지털뉴스부공용

Published : Feb. 22, 2013 - 16:00

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South Korean stocks closed almost flat on Friday as investors set on the sidelines ahead of major events around the globe, analysts said. The local currency gained against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) edged up 0.18 percent, or 3.67 points, to 2018.89. Trading volume was moderate at 403.2 million shares worth 3.9 trillion won (US$3.66 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 422 to 375.

"The stock market moved in a narrow range as investors took a wait-and-see stance on Italy's election scheduled for later this week," said Kim Young-jun, an analyst at SK Securities Co.

"Vanguard Group's recent move to switch to a new benchmark index also continued to weigh down on the market."

U.S. fund manager Vanguard Group Inc. decided to switch the index provider for its funds to the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) from Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), effective on Jan. 10.

Unlike MSCI, the FTSE does not include South Korea in their benchmark portfolio, which drew concerns among local analysts that there would be a huge outflow of foreign funds from the local stock market.

Market watchers said investor sentiment was also dented by rising concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve may scale back its economic stimulus sooner than expected.

Foreigners offloaded a net 4.1 billion won worth of local shares, and retail investors sold a net 196.31 billion won. On the other hand, institutional investors scooped up a net 215.1 billion won.

NHN, the operator of South Korea's most-visited portal, moved up 0.76 percent to 263,500 won and casino and ski resort operator Kangwon Land soared 2.08 percent to 31,900 won as foreign investors scooped up their shares.

Carmakers also led the market gain, with No. 1 player Hyundai Motor advancing 1.39 percent to 219,300 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors adding 0.73 percent to 55,500 won. Top auto parts manufacturer Hyundai Mobis moved up 1.14 percent to 311,000 won.

Shares of Keystone Global, a local energy firm, advanced 5.4 percent to 3,320 won after soaring by the daily permissible limit for four straight trading sessions. The firm is headed by a relative of Kim Jeong-hoon, who was named as the minister of the future creation and science ministry.

In contrast, Lotte Tour Development fell 6.35 percent to 11,800 won on the gloomy outlook on its project to build high-rise commercial buildings in the Yongsan district of Seoul.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea moved down 0.64 percent to 30,950 won despite the firm saying Thursday that it has won a $1.1 billion contract to build part of an offshore oil production platform.

Samsung Electronics shed 1.29 percent to 1,530,000 won, and top chipmaker SK hynix slid 0.75 percent to 26,400 won. LG Electronics moved down 0.52 percent to 77,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,084.70 won against the greenback, up 1.50 won from Thursday's close, as investors took a wait-and-see approach on concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve may scale back its economic stimulus, dealers said. (Yonhap News)