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(LEAD) Seoul stocks end flat on retail buying

All News 16:42 April 16, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo and bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- Seoul stocks ended flat Thursday, unchanged from a session earlier, as institutions and individuals' buying offset foreign selling. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ended flat to close at 1,857.07. Trading volume was moderate at 864.4 million shares worth 10.52 trillion won (US$8.6 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 452 to 401.

The main index closed unchanged after U.S. shares fell overnight following the International Monetary Fund's warning of the worst global downturn in a century and poor U.S. economic data this week.

This photo, taken on April 16, 2020, shows the dealing room of KB Kookmin Bank in Yeouido, Seoul. (Yonhap)

The United States' plan to reopen its economy by May 1 gave a boost to the KOSPI index. But negative U.S. retail sales and other economic data released Wednesday (local time) weighed on the index. Hence, there was no change in the equities market today, analysts said.

"Pension funds and retail investors' stock purchases kept the index from ending in negative territory despite poor U.S. economic figures," Noh Dong-kil, an analyst at NH Securities Co., said by phone.

Institutions and individuals bought a combined 525 billion won worth of stocks, offsetting foreign selling valued at 568 billion won. Foreigners continued to offload stocks in the past 30 sessions through Thursday.

Large-cap stocks were mixed across the board.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. remained unchanged at 49,000 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. fell 1.2 percent to 81,300 won, top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. declined 0.9 percent to 99,100 won, and state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. was down 4.5 percent to 20,250 won.

Among gainers, leading chemical firm LG Chem Ltd. jumped 5.1 percent to 343,000 won, and No. 1 low-cost carrier Jeju Air Co. rose 1.1 percent to 18,850 won.

The local currency closed at 1,228.70 won against the U.S. dollar, down 11.40 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys fell 1.4 basis points to 0.982 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond declined 4.1 basis points at 1.184 percent.

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