Seoul Stocks Dip on Last-Minute Sales Despite Wall Street Uptick

SEOUL - In a surprising turn of events, South Korean stocks concluded slightly lower on Friday, impacted by a surge of last-minute selling. This decline occurred despite a bullish trend in Wall Street trading the previous night. The local currency, in contrast, experienced an upswing against the U.S. dollar.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) witnessed a marginal drop of 0.51 point, translating to 0.02 percent, settling at 2,599.51. Trading activity was moderate, with approximately 456.6 million shares traded, amounting to a total of 8.67 trillion won, equivalent to around US$6.63 billion. Notably, the number of advancing stocks slightly exceeded the declining ones, 435 to 428.

Despite maintaining positive performance throughout the day, following the gains in U.S. stocks, the KOSPI succumbed to downward pressure due to intense selling by retail and foreign investors towards the session's end. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw an increase of 0.87 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose by 1.26 percent, fueled by ongoing expectations of a more lenient Federal Reserve monetary policy.

Chung Myung-ji, an analyst at Samsung Securities, pointed out that stock markets in Greater China, including Hong Kong, also faced unfavorable conditions on the same day. Chung highlighted that the rising uncertainty, especially ahead of the holiday season, amplified the urge to sell among investors in emerging markets.

In the corporate sector, market bellwether Samsung Electronics experienced a gain of 1.20 percent, closing at 75,900 won. Similarly, SK hynix, the second-largest chipmaker, recorded a slight increase of 0.07 percent, ending at 140,600 won. This positive trend followed an encouraging earnings forecast from U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology. Hyundai Motor, the top automaker, also saw a modest rise of 0.15 percent to 199,100 won, with its affiliate Kia gaining 0.21 percent to 95,600 won. Leading refiner SK Innovation's stocks also rose by 0.65 percent, finishing at 138,800 won.

However, not all sectors fared well. Battery and bio-related stocks experienced declines, with top battery maker LG Energy Solution falling 0.83 percent to 419,000 won and pharmaceutical giant Celltrion dropping 1.17 percent to 185,500 won. The gaming industry was particularly hit hard following China's announcement of restrictions on its online gaming sector. Krafton, the creator of "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds," plunged dramatically by 13.77 percent to 178,500 won, while Netmarble fell by 5.56 percent to 56,100 won.

The local currency closed stronger, at 1,303.00 won against the U.S. dollar, up from the previous session. In the bond market, prices rose, indicating a decrease in yields. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell slightly by 0.2 basis point to 3.234 percent, and the return on five-year government bonds also decreased by 0.1 basis point to 3.254 percent.

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