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(LEAD) Seoul stocks slightly lower on profit-taking, Korean won hits yearly low

Stocks 16:30 April 30, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at the bottom)

SEOUL, April 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors sought to cash in the previous session's surge ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision this week, analysts said. The South Korean won sharply fell against the U.S. dollar on weaker-than-expected economic data.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 12.84 points, or 0.58 percent, to close at 2,203.59. Trade volume was moderate at 375 million shares worth 5.6 trillion won (US$4.8 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 446 to 370.

Institutional investors offloaded 57.3 billion won, while foreign and retail investors scooped up a net 41.3 billion won and 12.4 billion won, respectively.

"The KOSPI closed lower as investors attempted to lock in gains from the previous session's surge amid uncertainties ahead of the FOMC meeting," said Lee Young-gon, a researcher from Hana Financial Investment.

Samsung Electronics ended at 45,850 won, down 0.64 percent from the previous session's close. The tech giant said that it suffered a 60-percent fall in its first-quarter earnings, the lowest since the third quarter of 2016, on weak memory chip prices.

Other market heavyweights mostly remained in negative terrain.

SK hynix, the world's No. 2 memory chip producer, lost 1.25 percent to close at 79,000 won. LG Chem, the leading chemical firm, was down 1.1 percent to finish at 361,000 won

AmorePacific, the country's No. 1 cosmetics maker, fell 5.88 percent to end at 208,000 won. A day earlier, the company said its first-quarter net profit dipped 31 percent from a year earlier on increased costs.

Bio shares also closed lower, with Samsung BioLogics, a biopharmaceutical affiliate of Samsung Group, losing 2.16 percent to end at 340,000 won. Celltrion was down 1.85 percent to 212,000 won.

Hanwha TimeWorld, the retail unit of Hanwha Group, plummeted 21.45 percent to 30,400 won on news that it will close down a duty-free outlet in downtown Seoul amid increased losses.

Auto shares, meanwhile, closed mixed, with leading automaker Hyundai Motor moving down 0.36 percent to 138,500 won while its sister company, Kia Motors, was unchanged at 45,250 won.

The local currency closed at 1,168.2 won against the U.S. dollar, the lowest level of the year, down 9.7 won from the previous session's close, on weak data from China.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year debts fell 1.3 basis points to 1.699 percent, and the return on benchmark five-year government bonds declined 1.5 basis points to 1.728 percent.

khj@yna.co.kr
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