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(LEAD) Seoul stocks end almost flat amid cautious note

All News 16:15 January 23, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares ended almost unchanged Monday as investors took to the sidelines amid uncertainties at both home and abroad. The South Korean currency rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) inched up 0.38 point, or 0.02 percent, to 2,065.99.

Trade volume came to 439.85 million shares worth 3.66 trillion won (US$3.14 billion), with decliners outnumbering advancers 565 to 248.

Foreigners were net buyers by scooping up a net 116.3 billion won worth of local stocks, although it was offset by institutional investors' massive selling of 108.3 billion won

The KOSPI had opened higher, led by gains in tech shares, such as market kingpin Samsung Electronics and SK hynix.

However, a further rise was limited by uncertainty over the economic policy of U.S. President Donald Trump, who took office Friday (Washington time), analysts said.

"The KOSPI is likely to stay in a tight range due to positive factors such as global macroeconomic indications and negative factors, such as the Trump policy," Bookook Securities analyst Kim Sung-hwan said.

Most large caps closed mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 2.31 percent to end at 1,903,000 won after releasing a report on the outcome of an investigation into what caused Galaxy Note 7s to catch fire.

Earlier in the day, the tech giant announced which faulty batteries were behind some Galaxy Note 7 smartphones catching fire, not the smartphone's hardware design or software.

Global chipmaker SK hynix gained 3.46 percent to 50,800 won on expectations that the company could pull off market-beating earnings for the fourth quarter of 2016.

In contrast, auto shares were in negative terrain.

Leading automaker Hyundai Motor was down 2.61 percent to 149,000 won, and its sister company, Kia Motors, lost 0.88 percent to 39,400 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis sank 2.15 percent to 272,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,165.50 won against the U.S. greenback, up 3.70 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 1.5 basis points to 1.640 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond decreased 1.8 basis points to 1.827 percent.

khj@yna.co.kr
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