Shares end 0.91% lower on dampened China outlook
Korean stocks closed 0.91 percent lower Monday, as investors sought to offload their holdings after China announced a downward growth target for this year, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
Moving in a tight range, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 18.57 points to 2,016.06. Trading volume was heavy with 541.1 million shares worth 5.05 trillion won ($4.51 billion) with decliners outstripping gainers 528 to 297.
"China's growth forecast took the steam out of investors as it was lowered from the 8 percent range expansion last year. The KOSPI was weighed down by exporters that largely rely on the country," said Bae Sung-young, an analyst at Hyundai Securities Co.
The government of Asia's largest economy pulled down its growth target for 2012 to 7.5 percent, the lowest in eight years, at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress held in Beijing on March 5.
Exporters sensitive to Chinese demand lost ground, with LG Chemical slumping 4.83 percent to 384,500 won and smaller player Honam Petrochemical plummeting 4.74 percent to 342,000 won.
Techs also finished bearish. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 0.68 percent to 1,174,000 won and flat panel giant LG Display declined 3.38 percent to 28,550 won.
Stock gains seen late last week paved the way for investors to take a breather in the main bourse, prompting a foreign-led selloff ahead of a futures and option expiry on Thursday, Bae added.
Foreigners snapped a two-session buying streak to unload a net 57.4 billion won, with a program selling of a net 247.1 billion won.
In contrast, logistic firms and airline companies were buoyed by foreign buying, with top container line Hanjin Shipping advancing 1.64 percent to 18,600 won.
The local currency finished at 1,118.50 won against the greenback, down 3.0 won from Friday's close, as foreigners refrained from snapping up local equities, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasuries inched up 0.03 percentage point to 3.51 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds also rose 0.03 percentage point to 3.61 percent. (Yonhap)