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(LEAD) Seoul stocks end lower on grim economic outlook

All News 16:45 May 14, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom; photo)

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed lower Thursday as investor sentiment was dented by a grim forecast for global economic recovery amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 15.46 points, or 0.80 percent, to close at 1,924.96.

Trading volume was high at 744 million shares worth 9.3 trillion won (US$7.5 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 638 to 229.

The index never moved above the flatline throughout the session.

Analysts said investors focused on the bleak outlook from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who delivered an assessment for a slow economic recovery from the novel coronavirus fallout.

Growing concerns over renewed trade tensions between the United States and China also weighed down the local market, analysts added.

This photo shows a screen showing the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a dealing room at Hana Bank in Seoul on May 14, 2020. (Yonhap)

"Powell's comments were not helpful since it can lead to continued foreign sell-offs here," Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said.

Foreigners dumped a net 552 billion won, while institutions sold a net 238 billion won worth of local stocks. Individuals scooped up a net 785 billion won on the Seoul bourse.

Most large-cap stocks ended in negative terrain.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics plunged 1.13 percent to 48,000 won and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix tumbled 3.59 percent to 80,600 won.

South Korea's largest automaker, Hyundai Motor, lost 0.86 percent to 92,300 won, while auto parts producer Hyundai Mobis declined 0.59 percent to 169,500 won.

Top chemical firm LG Chem dipped 2.13 percent to 344,500 won, and leading steelmaker POSCO dropped 2.89 percent to 168,000 won.

However, pharmaceutical giant Celltrion advanced 0.93 percent to 217,000 won, while Kakao, which runs the nation's leading mobile messenger app, KakaoTalk, jumped 3.93 percent to 225,000 won.

The South Korean won closed at 1,228.00 won against the U.S. dollar, down 4.20 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 1.3 basis points to 0.869 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 1.1 basis points to 1.122 percent.

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