Seoul shares inch up on better US data
Korean stocks closed a tad higher Monday, lifted by improved U.S. economic data, but the gains were limited on renewed concern over Greece's default, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 0.79 points, or 0.04 percent, to finish at 1,973.13. Trading volume was heavy at 515.3 million shares worth 7.21 trillion won ($6.43 billion) with decliners outpacing gainers 433 to 400.
The KOSPI opened 1.10 percent higher but lost steam to extend the gains and bobbed in and out of negative territory in the later trading.
"Optimism from upbeat U.S. payroll data and the jobless rate was short-lived because the Greece default problems re-emerged, leading to downward pressure," said Kim Joo-yong, an analyst at Bookook Securities Co.
U.S. non-farm payrolls jumped by 243,000 in January and the jobless rate fell to the lowest 8.3 percent since February 2009.
"Negotiations on the second bailout package for Greece made little progress, sapping investor sentiment," said Kim. "The KOSPI will likely move in rangebound trading throughout this week."
The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund failed to reach an agreement over the weekend on whether Greece must take austerity measures in return for the second bailout package.
Machineries and financials gathered ground. Leading power equipment maker Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. shot up 3.59 percent to 75,000 won, boosted by foreign buying for three straight sessions.
Hana Financial Group, the country's fourth-largest bank holding company, soared 4.18 percent to 41,100 won.
Shares in chemical firms and steelmakers lost ground, with top player LG Chemical shedding 0.37 percent to 405,000 won and leading steelmaker POSCO falling 1.20 percent to 412,000 won.
Tech blue-chips finished mixed, with top-cap Samsung Electronics gaining 0.75 percent to 1,074,000 won and No. 2 chipmaker Hynix Semiconductor slipping 0.76 percent to 26,100 won.
Shares of Hanwha Corp., the holding company of family-controlled conglomerate Hanwha Group, plunged 4.64 percent to 37,000 won after the bourse operator decided Sunday not to suspend its stock trading, despite an embezzlement case involving the group chief.
The local currency ended at 1,120.8 won against the greenback, down 2.5 won from Friday's close, as foreign investors fled for safer assets, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasuries gained 0.02 percentage point to 3.40 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds also rose 0.02 percentage point to 3.52 percent. (Yonhap)