Seoul shares end lower on growing recession fears

SEOUL– South Korean stocks finished slightly lower Friday as investors worried about a global economic slowdown amid the Federal Reserve’s continued push for aggressive monetary tightening. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index shed 0.95 point, or 0.04 percent, to close at 2,360.02, extending a losing streak to a second session.

The trading volume was moderate at 404.6 million shares worth 7.03 trillion won (US$4.31 billion), with decliners outstripping gainers 605 to 261.

The market opened sharply lower, after U.S. shares tumbled as weak retail sales data sparked fears that the Fed’s rate hikes would lead to a recession.

Retail sales for November declined 0.6 percent, worse than economists’ estimate for a 0.3 percent decline.

On Wednesday (U.S. time), the Fed downshifted to a 50 basis point hike from its previous 75 basis point increases. But Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed has “more work to do” to rein in inflation.

Many of the earlier losses, however, were pared on the Seoul bourse on solid foreign buying.

Institutions sold a net 350.17 billion won worth of shares, while foreign and retail investors bought 288.96 billion won and 28.75 billion won worth of shares, respectively.

“Weak economic data from the U.S. and China have deepened fears that aggressive rate hikes are taking a toll on consumers and the broader economy,” Mirae Asset Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said. “Recession woes could affect foreign demand and drag down the index.”
Top-cap shares traded mixed.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics rose 0.34 percent to 59,500 won, while chip giant SK hynix sank 2.24 percent to 78,400 won.

Battery maker LG Energy Solutions inched down 0.1 percent to 485,500 won, but Samsung SDI grew 0.3 percent to 667,000 won. Leading chemical firm LG Chem went up 0.31 percent to 645,000 won.

Samsung Biologics surged 1.46 percent to 835,000 won, while Celltrion lost 0.28 percent to 179,000 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor increased 0.31 percent to 162,500 won, and its affiliate Kia ended flat at 64,100 won.

Internet giant Naver fell 1.1 percent to 180,500 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger KakaoTalk, sank 1.63 percent to 54,400 won.

Among gainers, STX Heavy Industries spiked 21.18 percent to 6,980 won on news that Korea Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering joined the bid to acquire 47.81 percent of the ship engine maker.

The Korean won ended at 1,305.4 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.3 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 0.3 basis point at 3.539 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond grew 0.2 basis point to 3.442 percent.

Seoul’s key stock index went down 1.21 percent this week from a week ago on rate hike woes.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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