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(LEAD) Seoul stocks nearly flat after choppy session

All News 16:18 May 15, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks closed slightly higher Friday after a choppy session as investors sat on the sidelines over the growing concerns over the diplomatic and economic tension between the United States and China. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) moved up 2.32 points, or 0.12 percent, to finish at 1,927.28. Trading volume was moderate at 850 million shares worth 9.55 trillion won (US$7.75 billion), with gainers outpacing losers 485 to 360.

Seoul shares got off to a strong start after investors welcomed the gradual reopening of businesses across the globe, including the United States.

Dealers work in front of an electronic signboard at the headquarters of Hana Bank in Seoul on May 15, 2020. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) moved up 2.32 points, or 0.12 percent, to finish at 1,927.28. (Yonhap)

The index, however, lost ground during some points during the session as U.S. President Donald Trump said that the world's top economy may cut off all ties with China, as the bilateral relationship continued to sour over issues related to trade and the handling of the virus pandemic.

"It is significant that the global oil prices have rebounded to lend support to investors' sentiment," said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities Co. "But the growing possibility over another trade row between Washington and Beijing lingers as a risk."

Foreigners dumped a net 472 billion won, but individuals scooped up a net 223 billion won. Institutions bought more shares than they sold at 241 billion won.

In Seoul, major blue chip shares traded mixed across the board.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics moved down 0.31 percent to 47,850 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 1.61 percent to 81,900 won. Home appliances giant LG Electronics rose 0.37 percent to 54,400 won.

Top chemical firm LG Chem advanced 0.58 percent to 346,500 won, while leading cosmetics producer AmorePacific plunged 3.12 percent to 170,500 won.

No. 1 carmaker Hyundai Motor remained unchanged at 92,300 won, while its smaller sister Kia Motors moved up 1.39 percent to 29,100 won. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis increased 1.77 percent to 172,500 won.

Pharmaceutical firms also closed mixed, with Samsung BioLogics falling 1.14 percent to 605,000 won and Celltrion climbing 0.23 percent to 217,500 won.

The South Korean won closed at 1,231,00 won against the U.S. dollar, down 3.00 won from the previous session.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 0.5 basis point to 0.874 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond shed 0.4 basis point to 1.118 percent.

colin@yna.co.kr
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