Seoul stocks dip nearly 2 percent on US tapering jitters

Seoul stocks dip nearly 2 percent on US tapering jitters

Dealers busily work at the dealing room of Hana Bank’s headquarters located in Seoul, Aug. 19, as the benchmark KOSPI closed at 3,097.83 points. Yonhap

South Korean stocks tumbled nearly 2 percent Thursday on concerns over the U.S. Federal Reserve minutes that hinted at the possibility of an earlier-than-expected tapering timeline. The Korean won steeply fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slumped 61.1 points, or 1.93 percent, to close at 3,097.83 points. The figure marks the index’s biggest daily loss since Feb. 26, and the closing price marks the lowest since early April.

Trading volume was moderate at about 637 million shares worth some 16.7 trillion won ($14.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 850 to 58.

Foreigners sold a net 327 billion won, while retail investors bought 803 billion won. Institutions offloaded a net 416 billion won.

Stocks got off to a lackluster start, tracking the overnight Wall Street stock plunge.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.08 percent as the Federal Reserve minutes signaled that the U.S. central bank could start rolling back its accommodative policies as early as later this year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the SP 500 slumped 0.89 percent and 1.07 percent, respectively.

The market decline deepened in the afternoon as the local currency’s slide may trigger further sell-offs by foreign investors.

“Concerns about the pace (change) in the Fed’s tapering seem to have pulled down the stock prices,” Daeshin Securities analyst Lee Kyung-min said.

“Such worries weighed on the chipmakers that have already been under pressure, in addition to auto, steel and other sectors,” he added.

Market kingpin Samsung Electronics declined 1.08 percent to 73,100 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix dipped 1.44 percent to 102,500 won.

Internet portal giant Naver retreated 1.05 percent to 424,500 won, and leading carmaker Hyundai Motor decreased 2.82 percent to 206,500 won. Giant chemical maker LG Chem edged down 0.22 percent to 894,000 won.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics shed 1.81 percent to 975,000 won, while internet-only Kakao Bank surged 8.88 percent to 92,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,176.2 won to the U.S. dollar, down 8.2 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys lost 2.9 basis points to 1.360 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond fell 2.8 basis points to 1.604 percent. (Yonhap)

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