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(LEAD) S. Korean stocks close lower on U.S. woes

All Headlines 16:04 August 26, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares closed lower Friday as investors took to the sidelines amid growing concerns over a U.S. rate hike. The local currency further gained ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 5.42 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,037.50. Trading volume was slim at 268.85 million shares worth 3.69 trillion won (US$3.31 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 431 to 367.

The index opened sharply lower, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street, partly caused by concerns over a possible U.S. rate hike in the near future.

Analysts said investors will likely remain cautious at least until after the Jackson Hole economic symposium, where U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to give a speech, possibly hinting at the timing of what many believe to be an imminent U.S. rate hike.

"Investors appear to have become more cautious ahead of the Jackson Hole meeting," said Korea Investment & Securities analyst Kim Dae-jun.

"The Jackson Hole meeting is an important event for foreign investors as well," he added, offering an explanation for continued selling by foreign investors here.

Foreigners offloaded a net 130.64 billion won worth of local shares, also extending their selling streak to a third consecutive session.

Institutions scooped up a net 189.52 billion won, while retail investors sold 58.78 billion won.

Large caps closed mixed, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics falling 1.65 percent to 1,612,000 won. The tech giant has lost for three consecutive sessions since reaching a record high of 1,687,000 won Tuesday.

Leading automaker Hyundai Motor also ended in negative terrain, slipping 0.73 percent to 135,500 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors plunged 1.28 percent to 42,350 won.

Global chipmaker SK hynix spiked 1.54 percent to 36,250 won, with auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis jumping 1.97 percent to 258,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,113.70 won against the U.S. dollar, up 2.20 won from Thursday's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 0.5 basis point to 1.241 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 0.7 basis point to 1.270 percent.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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