Seoul Stocks Dip for Fourth Consecutive Day Amid Anticipation of U.S. Economic Data

SEOUL: Seoul shares closed lower on Monday, marking a fourth consecutive day of decline as investors awaited key U.S. economic data that could influence the Federal Reserve's monetary policy. Concurrently, the Korean won weakened against the U.S. dollar.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell by 10.26 points, or 0.4 percent, ending the day at 2,567.82. Trading volume was moderate with 313.6 million shares valued at 6.7 trillion won (approximately US$5.1 billion) changing hands. Declines in stock outnumbered gains, with 500 losers against 358 winners.

Institutional investors sold off stocks worth 436 billion won, contrasting with the combined purchases of individual and foreign investors at 424.7 billion won. Despite a slight rise in U.S. markets on Friday, with the S&P 500 increasing by 0.2 percent and both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq composite up by 0.1 percent, investor sentiment in Seoul remained cautious.

All eyes are on the impending release of U.S. economic indicators, including the December consumer price index and the producer price index. These data points are crucial in predicting the Federal Reserve's future rate decisions.

The Bank of Korea is also poised for a rate-setting meeting this Thursday, where it will decide whether to maintain its current rate. Last week's minutes from the Fed's December meeting suggested that high-interest rates might persist, dampening expectations for early rate cuts.

In Seoul, the downturn was led by significant losses in technology and automotive stocks. Market leaders like Samsung Electronics and SK hynix saw their shares decline, alongside other key players such as LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI. The auto sector also experienced a downturn, with major companies like Hyundai Motor and Kia reporting losses.

Conversely, IT shares saw an uptick, with companies like Naver and Kakao posting gains. Samsung SDS and Ecopro Materials also experienced substantial increases in their stock prices.

In the currency market, the Korean won closed at 1,316.00 won against the dollar, a slight decrease from the previous session. Bond prices showed mixed results, with the yield on three-year Treasurys rising slightly, while the return on five-year government bonds remained unchanged.

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