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Seoul shares down for 4th day to hit fresh 20-month low amid recession woes

An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks dipped for a fourth consecutive day to hit a fresh 20-month low Monday as investors worry the US Federal Reserve's move to curb inflation may trigger a deeper-than-expected economic recession. The local currency inched up against the US dollar.

After choppy trading, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 5.08 points, or 0.22 percent, to close at 2,300.34, the lowest since 2,300.16 on Nov. 2, 2020. The index dipped to an intraday low of 2,276.63 points.

Trading volume was light at 461.9 million shares worth 7.24 trillion won ($5.57 billion) with declining stocks far outstripping advancing ones 693 to 188.

"The market is continuing to fluctuate as investors remain wary over the Fed's planned rate hikes and recession fears amid no fresh leads to drive the market," Han Ji-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co, said.

Major US indexes Friday (US time) reversed their earlier losses to end higher, as investors speculated whether weaker-than-expected economic indicators would prod the Fed to slow down on its drastic rate hike plans in the face of decades-high inflation.

The US Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers' index came to 53, lower than the market expectation and that of the previous month, putting more weight on the view that the economy is slowing and inflation may have peaked.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta revised down the second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimate to a 2.1 percent contraction, from the earlier forecast of a 1 percent fall.

Major builders, shipbuilders and chemicals drove down the KOSPI. Top builder Hyundai Engineering & Construction fell 3.36 percent to 40,300 won, and leading chemical company LG Chem lost 1.77 percent to 500,000 won.

LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI, two major battery makers, also retreated 0.14 percent to 356,000 won and 1.17 percent to 506,000 won, respectively.

Tech blue-chips, in contrast, closed bullish. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics advanced 1.6 percent to 57,100 won, and chip giant SK hynix rose 1.83 percent to 89,100 won.

Platform operator Kakao and Internet-only Kakao Bank also finished up 1.19 percent to 68,100 won and 1.73 percent to 29,450 won, respectively.

The local currency ended at 1,297.10 won against the US dollar, up 0.2 won from Friday's close. (Yonhap)

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