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(LEAD) Seoul stocks end lower ahead of Q1 earnings season

All News 16:27 April 20, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo and bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks ended lower on Monday as investors await first-quarter earnings results from this week amid signs of an easing in the global coronavirus spread. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 16.17 points, or 0.84 percent, to close at 1,898.36. Trading volume was moderate at 1.1 billion shares worth 11.7 trillion won (US$9.6 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 515 to 337.

The main index declined on Monday after jumping more than 3 percent to end at 1,914.53 on Friday on hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic was peaking.

This photo taken on April 20, 2020 shows the dealing room of KEB Hana Bank in Myeongdong, central Seoul. (Yonhap)

Investor concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic appear to be easing following reports of early progress in a possible treatment for the coronavirus and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's comment on Sunday (local time) that the state may be past the high point of coronavirus deaths.

But investors remain cautious as major companies are expected to report poor earnings results for the January-March period due to the COVID-19 impact on their businesses, analysts said.

"The virus outbreak continues though the pace of spread is slowing down. Companies will inevitably report poor earnings results for the first quarter and some grim economic data are expected for the quarter. That will serve as downside factors," Meritz Securities Co. analyst Ha In-hwan said.

South Korea reported 13 more cases of the new coronavirus Monday, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,674. It marked the third day in a row that the country's new virus infections stayed below 20.

Institutions and foreigners sold a combined 984.9 billion won worth of stocks, offsetting individuals' stock purchases valued at 958.1 billion won.

Most large-cap stocks declined, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. falling 2.5 percent to 50,100 won, No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. declining 2.5 percent to 82,000 won, and top carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. shedding 2.9 percent to 97,600 won.

Among gainers, state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. rose 3.6 percent to 21,350 won, leading wireless services provider SK Telecom Co. climbed 2.3 percent to 203,500 won and SsangYong Motor Co. jumped 6.3 percent to 1,615 won on a wage deal for 2020.

The local currency closed at 1,220.50 won against the U.S. dollar, down 2.60 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 0.7 basis point to 1.013 percent, but the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 0.2 basis point to 1.217 percent.
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