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Seoul stocks slip from 6-year high, Samsung continue to rise

South Korean stocks snapped their six-day winning streak on Friday, slipping from their six-year high, as investors cashed in recent gains, analysts said. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 4.02 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 2,205.44.

Trade volume was moderate at 263 million shares worth 5.64 trillion won ($4.96 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 502 to 285.

The local stock market opened higher as top market cap Samsung Electronics continued to rise on earnings hopes and shareholder-friendly measures.

But the index swung between gains and losses on profit-taking.

"Improved earnings and a decelerating pace of decline in global oil prices help the local stock market rise," said Hong Choon-wook, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities. "But investors were tempted to cash in gains, probably preventing the market from rising further."

Foreign investors have scooped up some 1.6 trillion won worth of local stocks for the past week, sending the Kospi higher, as European political risk eased and the US economy showed signs of improvement.

Samsung Electronics, the top market cap here, advanced 1.78 percent to end at 2,231,000 won, after saying it would buy back its stocks worth 9.3 trillion won this year and cancel its treasury stocks worth 49 trillion won down the road in return for nixing its plan to transform into a holding company structure.

The company hit an intra-day record high of 2,290,000 won.

The tech behemoth also reported a 46 percent rise in its first-quarter net profit to reach 7.68 trillion won, aided by a robust chip business which posted record-high performance.

Operating profit reached 9.89 trillion won, also up 48.27 percent from a year earlier.

SK hynix, a major chipmaker, gained 0.75 percent at 54,000 won.

POSCO, the top steelmaker, declined 1.29 percent to end at 267,500 won, and SK Innovation, the top refiner in the country, dropped 2.01 percent to end at 171,000 won.

Hyundai Motor, South Korea's No. 1 automaker, shed 2.04 percent at 144,000 won after reporting a 21 percent decline in first-quarter net profit due to weak sales in China and emerging markets.

Its smaller affiliate Kia Motors also sank 0.43 percent to finish at 34,500 won after suffering a 19 percent on-year drop in its first-quarter net profit due to weak demand in China and the United States.

Naver, the operator of the country's top Internet portal, advanced 1.14 percent to end at 800,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,137.90 won against the US dollar, down 7.8 won from the previous session's close. 

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 0.2 basis point to 1.675 percent, while the return on the benchmark five-year government bond gained 0.4 basis point at 1.865 percent. (Yonhap)