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(LEAD) Seoul stocks close lower amid U.S.-China trade woes

All Headlines 16:38 December 03, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS photo and bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares closed lower Tuesday on revived pessimism over U.S.-China trade tensions. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 7.85 points, or 0.38 percent, to close at 2,084.07. Trading volume was moderate at 436 million shares worth 4.04 trillion won (US$3.4 billion), with losers outnumbering winners 520 to 307.

The main index opened lower, tracking losses on Wall Street, as China said Monday it will suspend U.S. military ship and aircraft visits to Hong Kong in retaliation for passage of a U.S. law supporting protestors in the semi-autonomous territory, analysts said.

"Investors have stuck to hopes of a mini deal between Washington and Beijing by Dec. 15, when the U.S. is scheduled to impose tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese products. But the recent flare-up of political unrest in Hong Kong could affect that progress," NH Securities Co. analyst Noh Dong-kil said.

Moreover, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday slapped higher tariffs on steel goods from Brazil and Argentina, while proposing new levies on France. Such moves put investors in a selling mood.

"If the U.S. imposes the planned tariffs on Chinese goods in mid-December, Asian stock markets will be hit further due to declines in their trade with the two major partners," Noh said.

Institutions and individuals bought a combined 244 billion won worth of stocks, keeping the KOSPI from falling further.

The foreign selling binge continued for a 19th straight session, with a net 271 billion won being sold on Tuesday.

Tech, auto and steel stocks were lead decliners.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. fell 1 percent to 49,900 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. declined 2.2 percent to 78,700 won, and leading steelmaker POSCO was down 0.4 percent to 231,000 won.

Among gainers, state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. rose 0.9 percent to 28,500 won, the country's leading budget carrier Jeju Air Co. climbed 0.8 percent to 24,250 won, and cosmetics giant AmorePacific Corp. was up 0.8 percent to 194,000 won.

The Korean won closed at 1,187.20 won per dollar, down 4.10 won from the previous session.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 3.5 basis points to 1.460 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond climbed 3.1 basis points to 1.553 percent.

This photo taken on Dec. 3, 2019 shows KEB Hana Bank's dealing room in central Seoul. (Yonhap)


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