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(LEAD) Seoul shares close nearly flat on profit-taking

All News 16:34 January 31, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main bourse ended nearly flat on Thursday as investors sought to lock in profits, analysts said. The local currency gained ground against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) edged down 1.35 points, or 0.06 percent, to finish at 2,204.85. Trading volume was high at 537 million shares worth 7.66 trillion won (US$6.88 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 494 to 338.

At the start of trading, Seoul shares traded higher as investors cheered the Federal Reserve's decision to hold key rates steady.

Later in the day, however, the market lost some ground following losses by major tech shares and steel firms.

"The market was buoyed by the Federal Reserve's monetary easing stance, but it later backtracked as investors sought to keep their profits," said Lee Young-gon from Hana Financial Investment Co.

Foreigners bought more shares than they sold at 283 billion won, while individuals offloaded a net 117 billion won. Institutions bought a net 171 billion won.

Samsung Electronics moved down 0.54 percent to 46,150 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 2.64 percent to 73,900 won.

Top steelmaker POSCO decreased 3.86 percent to 274,000 won, and Hyundai Steel slipped 0.19 percent to 51,200 won. Korea Zinc moved up 1.03 percent to 440,500 won.

Samsung Life Insurance plunged 5.26 percent to 88,300 won.

Top carmaker Hyundai Motor closed unchanged at 129,500 won, and Hyundai Mobis climbed 0.22 percent to 225,000 won. Kia Motors moved up 0.55 percent to 36,350 won.

Pharmaceutical firms gained ground, with Celltrion adding 1.86 percent to 219,000 won and Samsung BioLogics improving 2.84 percent to 399,000 won. Hanmi Pharmaceutical gained 0.81 percent to 434,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,112.70 won against the U.S. dollar, up 3.60 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 1.8 basis points to 1.809 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds lost 3.1 basis points to 1.883 percent.

(LEAD) Seoul shares close nearly flat on profit-taking - 1

colin@yna.co.kr
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