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(LEAD) S. Korean stocks inch down amid investor jitters

All News 15:51 February 29, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares ended marginally lower on Monday as investors sat on the sidelines ahead of policy meetings around the globe. The local currency edged up against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 3.5 points, or 0.18 percent to finish at 1,916.66. Trading volume was thin at 271.58 million shares worth 4.53 trillion won (US$3.66 billion), with gainers beating losers 439 to 374.

Analysts said Seoul shares finished lower as investors sat on the sidelines ahead of the policy-setting events, including China's annual policy gathering and the European Central Bank's meeting.

"Last week's G20 meeting failed to give market growth momentum," said Cho Byung-hyun, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Co. "Thus, investors are now setting their sights on the policy meetings of different countries."

Cho, however, said a U.S. rate hike is not in the cards for March, although the Fed may jack up interest rates within the first half of 2016.

During the two-day G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Shanghai last week, the member countries agreed that the world economy is heavily threatened by downside challenges like rapid capital outflows in emerging countries, heightened geopolitical turmoil and regional risks in Europe and the Middle East.

But analysts said the G20 meeting failed to bring viable solutions to add vitality to the global economy, including the measures to ease the volatility in the foreign exchange market.

Foreigners purchased a net 172.1 billion won, while retail investors and institutions offloaded a net 55.4 billion won and 188.2 billion won, respectively.

LG Electronics moved up 1.88 percent to 64,900 won amid the rising expectations over the G5 flagship smartphone which is slated to be available for sale in March. Samsung Electronics also added 0.51 percent to 1,178,000 won.

Carmakers traded mixed, with leading Hyundai Motor moving up 0.34 percent to 147,500 won while Kia Motors shed 2.12 percent to 46,100 won. Hyundai Mobis edged down 3.11 percent to 249,000 won.

No. 1 steelmaker POSCO added 1.53 percent to 198,500 won, while Korea Zinc lost 1.65 percent to 446,500 won. Hyundai Steel moved up 1.09 percent to 55,600 won.

The local currency closed at 1,236.7 won against the greenback, up 1.5 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.2 basis point to 1.454 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond also gained 0.2 basis point to 1.555 percent.

colin@yna.co.kr
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