South Korean Shares Decline for Fifth Straight Day, Institutions Continue Sell-Off

Seoul, South Korea - South Korean stocks ended lower on Tuesday, marking the fifth consecutive session of decline, amid persistent selling by institutional investors. Meanwhile, the local currency registered a slight rise against the U.S. dollar.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell by 6.58 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 2,561.24. Trading volume was moderate with 782.4 million shares traded, valued at 8.76 trillion won (approximately US$6.66 billion). The number of stocks that gained exceeded those that lost, with 573 gainers to 288 losers.

Despite opening positively, influenced by overnight gains on Wall Street, the KOSPI lost its early gains due to increased selling by institutional investors. Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daeshin Securities, noted, "The KOSPI approached the 2,650 mark shortly after opening but relinquished most of its early gains as net buying by institutions decreased."

Samsung Electronics, a significant market player, reported a notable drop after announcing a lower-than-expected operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2023. According to Yonhap Infomax, the financial data firm of Yonhap News Agency, Samsung's operating profit for the quarter was projected to be 35 percent lower than the previous year, at 2.8 trillion won, which is substantially below the market estimate of 3.9 trillion won.

Institutional investors sold a net 67.3 billion won worth of shares, extending their selling trend for the fifth session in a row. Individuals also sold a net 10.4 billion won, while foreign investors purchased a net 73.8 billion won.

Among large-cap stocks, there were mixed results. Samsung Electronics saw a decline of 2.35 percent to 74,700 won. In contrast, SK hynix, the second-largest chipmaker, gained 1.03 percent to 137,400 won. Top internet portal operator Naver rose 1.32 percent to 229,500 won, and leading mobile service provider SK Telecom advanced 0.72 percent to 49,250 won. Hyundai Motor experienced a slight drop of 0.05 percent to 185,600 won, while its affiliate Kia Motors edged up 0.22 percent to 89,100 won.

The local currency closed at 1,315.70 won against the U.S. dollar, slightly stronger by 0.30 won from the previous session's close.

In the bond market, prices closed higher, leading to a decrease in yields. The yield on three-year Treasury bonds fell 3.5 basis points to 3.262 percent, and the yield on the benchmark five-year government bonds dropped 3.6 basis points to 3.276 percent.

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