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(LEAD) Stocks almost unchanged, as Samsung Electronics hits new record high

All Headlines 16:11 January 09, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished almost unchanged on Monday as Samsung Electronics, the country's top market cap, continued to rise on the back of an upbeat earnings forecast. The Korean won fell sharply against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slipped 0.34 point, or 0.02 percent, to close at 2,048.78. Trade volume was moderate at 395 million shares worth 3.79 trillion won (US$3.14 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 551 to 257.

The local stock market opened a tad higher as the U.S. stock market touched all-time highs and Samsung Electronics built up gains on better than expected earnings guidance.

"The strengthening of the U.S. dollar may ease, which will spark foreign buying down the road," said Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Book Securities.

Foreign investors scooped up a net 251 billion won in local stocks, while institutions sold a net 145 billion won.

Samsung Electronics, the top market cap, finished at a fresh record high of 1,861,000 won, up 2.82 percent.

Last week, Samsung Electronics expected its fourth-quarter operating profit last year to have jumped about 50 percent on-year, beating market expectations as strong sales of chips and displays appeared to help offset losses from a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.

Operating profit is estimated at 9.2 trillion won in the October-December period last year, up 49.84 percent from the same quarter of 2015, according to Samsung.

Compared with a quarter earlier, the fourth-quarter operating profit is estimated to have surged 77 percent, it said.

SK hynix, a major chipmaker, also jumped 3.23 percent to finish at 49,550 won on a surge in chip prices.

Auto industry leader Hyundai Motor lost 0.33 percent to 150,500 won, while its smaller affiliate Kia Motors slipped 0.98 percent to 40,350 won.

SK Innovation, the country's No. 1 refiner, increased 1.27 percent to 159,000 won, and LG Chem, the nation's top chemicals firm, shed 0.56 percent to finish at 264,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,208.30 won against the U.S. dollar, down 15.3 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower.

The yield on three-year Treasurys advanced 3.7 basis points to 1.663 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond rose 5.9 basis points to 1.849 percent.


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