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Seoul shares close lower on growth concerns

All Headlines 15:54 January 02, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed sharply lower to hit a more-than two month low Wednesday as gloomy economic data threw a wet blanket over the first day of trading of 2019. The local currency declined against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 31.04 points, or 1.52 percent, to end at 2,010. This is the lowest closing price since Oct. 29, when it finished at 1,996.05.

Trade volume was light at 321.8 million shares worth 4.24 trillion won (US$3.79 billion), with decliners outnumbering gainers 610 to 234.

The local stock market opened higher, led by an increase in large-cap shares, but soon entered negative terrain as growth concerns loomed.

South Korea's exports retreated 1.2 percent on-year in December due to a slowdown in overseas sales of chips and petrochemical products -- the first negative growth in three months.

China's manufacturing activities for December failed to meet the market consensus, creating concerns about an economic slowdown in the world's second largest economy. China is South Korea's biggest trade partner.

"We received the latest unfavorable data released on the turn-of-the year season," said Cho Byung-hyun from Yuanta Securities Korea Co. "With the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, a growing number of people are worried that the economy is in the doldrums."

Pessimism was felt across the board.

Hyundai Motor, the largest automaker, tumbled 3.80 percent to 114,000 won as its 2018 sales are expected to miss targets for a fourth straight year due to weaker demand in the two biggest auto markets.

Its sister company Kia Motors fell 2.67 percent to 32,800 won, and Hyundai Mobis, its auto parts affiliate, lost 2.63 percent to 185,000 won.

Leading oil refiner SK Innovation sank 5.85 percent to 169,000 won and No. 3 S-Oil slid 6.55 percent to 91,300 won.

Cosmetics firms were also among the biggest losers, with Amore Pacific plunging 7.64 percent to 193,500 won and LG Household & Health Care dropping 1.82 percent to 1,081,000 won.

The Korean won closed at 1,119.0 won against the U.S. dollar, down 3.3 won from the previous session's close.

Seoul shares close lower on growth concerns - 1

brk@yna.co.kr
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