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(LEAD) Seoul stocks end nearly flat as cautions prevail over Trump-Kim summit

All Headlines 16:58 June 12, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares changed little Tuesday, as investors moved sideways, awaiting the full results of the high-stakes summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, analysts said. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korean Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 1.32 points, or 0.05 percent, to finish at 2,468.83. Trade volume was moderate at 601.58 million shares worth 9.40 trillion won (US$8.72 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 492 to 323.

After opening slightly higher, the KOSPI experienced choppy trading throughout the session, fluctuating between positive and negative terrain before ending a tad lower.

Analysts said investors appear to have moved to lock in profits from recent gains, while closely monitoring the developments at the historic showdown between Trump and Kim, which started at 10 a.m. (Seoul time) on Sentosa in Singapore.

After holding rounds of talks, the leaders signed an agreement and expressed satisfaction over the pact. Details are to be made known during a press conference that will begin at around 5 p.m.

"Hopes and optimism over the summit have already been reflected in the index over the past several sessions, and investors will need some time to analyze the effects of the latest deal," said Choi Chang-gyu, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

"As other key market-moving events are planned this week, such a wait-and-see posture will continue for the time being," said another NH expert, Kim Byung-yeon.

On Wednesday, the U.S. central bank will hold a two-day policy meeting, during which it is widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point from the current range of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.

Offshore investors and retailers dumped local shares worth 122.7 billion won and 12.1 billion won, respectively, dragging down the index, while institutions picked up 121.6 billion won worth of local equities, respectively.

Steel and construction, which had seen bullish trade on the back of heightened hopes for inter-Korean economic cooperation projects, drifted lower.

POSCO skidded 1.61 percent to 366,000 won, and Hyundai Steel fell 2.72 percent to 60,700 won. Train manufacturer Hyundai Rotem dived 4.69 percent to 36,600 won, and Hyundai Construction sank 3.73 percent to 69,600 won.

Tech shares also moved down, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics tumbling 1 percent to 49,400 won and chip giant SK hynix decreasing 0.9 percent to 88,400 won.

But major bio shares finished higher, as investors hunted for blue-chip bargains. Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion advanced 2.06 percent to 273,000 won, and Samsung Biologics, the health care unit of Samsung Group, surged 2.26 percent to 429,500 won.

The South Korean currency closed at 1,077.15 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.95 won from the previous session's close. The market will be closed Wednesday for local elections.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended on a mixed note. The yield on three-year Treasurys remained unchanged at 2.223 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds shed 0.2 basis points to 2.497 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stroll together after their luncheon meeting at the Capella Hotel in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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