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(LEAD) Seoul stocks down for 3rd day ahead of ECB meeting

All News 15:59 July 21, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks edged down on Thursday, sliding for a third consecutive session as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting later in the day. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 1.43 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 2,015.46. Trade volume was light at 388 million shares worth 3.84 trillion won (US$3.38 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 422 to 371.

Following last week's surge on the back of strong foreign buying and a rise in Samsung Electronics, the local stock market has been stuck in a tight range as investors sought to cash in on gains.

Despite overnight gains in Wall Street, foreign and institutional investors opted to sell local stocks, analysts said.

"Ahead of key events such as the ECB meeting, investors are trying to lock in gains," said Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookuk Securities. "But after taking a breather, the local stock market may turn higher given favorable market conditions."

Foreign investors scooped up a net 39.8 billion won worth of local stocks, extending their buying binge to an 11th consecutive session.

Top market cap Samsung Electronics continued to build up gains rising 0.19 percent to end at 1,543,000 won, and AmorePacific, the No. 1 cosmetics maker, shed 2.13 percent to 413,000 won.

SK hynix, a global chipmaker, rose 0.16 percent to 32,150 won.

Naver, the operator of the country's top internet portal, rose 1.29 percent to 704,000 won, and POSCO, the country's top steelmaker, dropped 1.37 percent to end at 215,500 won.

Automakers traded in negative terrain, with industry leader Hyundai Motor down 1.12 percent to 130,000 won. Hyundai Motor workers staged a partial strike for a third straight day demanding a pay raise and better working conditions.

The local currency closed at 1,135.90 won against the U.S. dollar, up 5.1 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.2 basis points to 1.233 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond gained 1.7 basis points to 1.264 percent.


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