Seoul shares snap 9-day rise on profit-taking; won declines

SEOUL– South Korean stocks snapped their nine-day winning streak Tuesday, as investors took a breather from recent rallies and went on a profit-taking dive, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) retreated 20.47 points, or 0.85 percent, to finish at 2,379.39. Trading volume was moderate at 529.4 million shares worth 6.2 trillion won (US$5.04 billion), with decliners outnumbering gainers 618 to 250.

“Investors opted to make a profit from the recent rallies, and China’s weak quarterly growth also kept the KOSPI range-bound,” said Han Ji-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co.

Institutions unloaded a net 311.2 billion won worth of local equities. Foreigners and individuals bought a net 179 billion won and a net 128 billion won, respectively.

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year from a year earlier, slowing from the third quarter’s 3.9 percent expansion but exceeding the market expectation of a 1.8 percent gain, according to its government data released earlier in the day.

Despite the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, Asia’s largest economy is expected to remain sluggish amid weak global demand.

Shares declined across the board, led by IT service companies and biopharmaceuticals.

Top internet portal provider Naver slumped 3.5 percent to 193,500 won, and platform operator Kakao dipped 4.2 percent to 61,800 won.

Samsung Biologics slipped 1.7 percent to 793,000 won, and vaccine maker SK Bioscience shed 1.9 percent to 76,800 won.

Tech blue chips also ended in the red. Top-cap Samsung Electronics lost 0.2 percent to 61,000 won. No. 1 battery maker LG Energy Solution tumbled 4.7 percent to 458,000 won.

In contrast, logistics and shipping companies gathered ground. Container shipper HMM gained 0.7 percent to 21,550 won, and Jeju Air, a budget carrier, rose 4 percent to 15,650 won.

The local currency ended at 1,238.7 won against the U.S. dollar, down 3.4 won from Monday’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 3 basis points to 3,484 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds gained 8.1 basis points to 3.446 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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