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(LEAD) Seoul shares edge down on foreign selling

All News 16:06 January 21, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed slightly lower Thursday as overseas investors continued their selling spree. The local currency closed a tad higher against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slid 4.92 points, or 0.27 percent, to end at 1,840.53 after trading almost flat throughout the afternoon session. Trade volume was high at 422.4 million shares worth 4.73 trillion won (US$3.89 billion), with losers beating winners 463 to 363.

Analysts said the market ended lower as foreigners kept dumping shares amid prolonged concerns over the Chinese economy and falling oil prices.

Overseas investors sold a net 297 billion won, extending their sell-off run to 34 sessions, the longest selling streak ever. Individual investors also sold a net 28.6 billion won

Institutions, however, hunted for bargains and scooped up a net 311 billion won, putting a floor under the KOSPI.

"Institutions engaged in bargain hunting after the previous day's plunge," said Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co. "Gains in some blue chip shares limited the market's decline."

The KOSPI tumbled 44.19 points, or 2.34 percent, to end at 1,845.45 on Wednesday.

Hyundai Merchant Marine, a local logistics firm, advanced by the daily permissible limit of 29.81 percent to 3,005 won after falling 17.3 percent in the previous session on rumors that the company may be put under court receivership soon amid an industrywide slump.

Top steelmaker POSCO fell 1.58 percent to 156,000 won, and Hyundai Steel shed 1.46 percent to 43,850 won.

Air carriers traded mixed, with Korean Air closing unchanged at 23,200 won, while Asiana Airlines edged up 2.94 percent to 4,200 won. Jeju Air increased 5.99 percent to 30,950 won.

Carmakers ended mixed. Industry leader Hyundai Motor added 0.37 percent to 137,000 won, while Kia Motors lost 1.06 percent to 46,650 won. Top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis added 0.42 percent to 240,000 won

The local currency ended at 1,213.7 won against the greenback, up 0.3 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 0.6 basis point to 1.611 percent while the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds decreased 1 basis point to 1.750 percent.

colin@yna.co.kr
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