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Seoul shares end almost flat on weakening yen

Feb. 18, 2013 - 15:46 By KH디지털뉴스부공용
South Korean stocks closed nearly flat on Monday as lingering concerns over a weakening Japanese yen weighed on major exporters, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) inched up 0.73 points, or 0.04 percent, to 1,981.91. Trading volume was moderate at 411.6 million shares worth 2.8 trillion won (US$2.6 billion) with decliners outnumbering gainers 412 to 383.

"The G-20 meeting kept mum on the weakening Japanese yen. There has been little change in the currency circumstances and they are definitely a negative factor for the local bourse," said Lim Dong-lak, an analyst at Hanyang Securities Co.

The heads of central banks and finance ministers of 20 global economies met for a weekend meeting in Moscow but their statement failed to mention criticism of the Japanese government's currency policy, leaving room for the yen's further weakening.

"Foreign buying, however, helped limit losses in the KOSPI," said Lim.

Exporters largely lost ground, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics slipping 0.53 percent to 1,490,000 won.

LG Display, the world's second-largest display maker, fell 0.68 percent to 29,200 won after announcing a plan to invest 706 billion won in a new OLED TV line.

Major automakers also ended lower, with top player Hyundai Motor losing 1.87 percent to 209,500 won and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors slumping 2.42 percent to 52,500 won.

In contrast, defensive shares ended in positive territory, with top mobile operator SK Telecom rising 2.65 percent to 174,500 won.

Confectionery makers were also bullish, with Orion jumping 5.94 percent to 1,053,000 won.

The local currency ended at 1,082.1 won against the greenback, down 3.8 won from Friday's close, on the back of demand by offshore investors, dealers said. (Yonhap News)