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(LEAD) Seoul stocks edge down on sell-off by institutional investors

All News 15:58 January 05, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks fell slightly Thursday as institutional investors remained net sellers. The Korean won jumped against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 3.69 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 2,041.95. Trade volume was moderate at 525 million shares worth 3.99 trillion won (US$3.36 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 504 to 290.

The local stock market opened slightly higher, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street. But, the main stock index traded in a tight range as investors digested the minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting.

Also, investors took to the sidelines ahead of Samsung Electronics Co.'s guidance for its fourth-quarter earnings slated for Friday.

Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daishin Securities, said the won's jump against the U.S. dollar weighed on shares of exporters such as Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor.

Samsung Electronics fell 1.66 percent to end at 1,778,000 won, and AmorePacific, the No. 1 cosmetics maker, fell 0.32 percent to 310,000 won. SK hynix, a global chipmaker, rose 0.97 percent to 46,950 won. Naver, the operator of the country's top Internet portal, shed 2.35 percent at 791,000 won.

Automakers traded in negative terrain, with industry leader Hyundai Motor down 0.32 percent to 153,500 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors dipping 0.48 percent to 41,100 won.

The local currency closed at 1,186.35 won against the U.S. dollar, up 20.05 won from the previous session's close.

Traders attributed the won's jump to uncertainty about U.S. monetary policy, saying the latest Fed minutes failed to give a clear indication about when it will next increase its interest rates.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 1.1 basis points to 1.619 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond declined 2.3 basis points to 1.784 percent.

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