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(LEAD) S. Korean stocks down on tech slump

All News 16:16 January 10, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed lower Wednesday on tech heavyweight losses as investors fretted over the cloudy prospect of their memory chip business, analysts said. The Korean won weakened against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) sank 10.21 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 2,500.02. Trade volume was moderate at 440.03 million shares worth 8.43 trillion won (US$7.87 billion), with winners outnumbering losers 502 to 328.

The market index started higher, but it lost steam as foreigners turned to net sellers ahead of quarterly earnings reports by major corporations.

"The KOSPI lacks strong growth momentum as analysts have low expectations for the fourth-quarter earnings," Jeong Dai, an analyst at Meritz Securities, said. "With the memory chip prices nearing a peak, the outlook for chipmakers is not as good as last year. The shipbuilding industry is also expected to release disappointing quarterly reports."

Foreigners dumped a net 275.91 billion won worth of stocks, while institutions and retail investors bought a net 99.49 billion won and 128.48 billion won, respectively.

Tech heavyweights extended their losses as foreign exchange rates and rising chip supplies raised concerns over their export prospects.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 3.13 percent to 2,442,000 won after posting a weaker-than-expected operating profit estimate for the fourth quarter Monday. SK hynix, a major chipmaker, sank 5.2 percent to 72,800 won.

Auto shares were up. Top automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.97 percent to 155,500 won, and its parts maker Hyundai Mobis added 2.2 percent to 255,000 won.

Cosmetic shares rallied on brisk sales prospects in China and Southeast Asian nations.

Industry leader AmorePacific rose 2.52 percent to 305,5000 won, and its smaller rival LG Household & Healthcare jumped 6.45 percent to 1,222,000 won.

The local currency ended at 1,071.9 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.8 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended lower. The yield on three-year Treasury bonds increased 2.3 basis points to 2.172 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds rose 6.9 basis points to 2.449 percent.


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