South Korean stocks closed almost unchanged Tuesday, as increased bets by foreign investors in local equities were offset by selling by retail and institutional investors amid eased currency woes, analysts said. The local
currency rose against the U.S. dollar.
After bobbing in and out of negative terrain, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) slipped 0.06 point, holding almost steady at 1,989.51. Trading volume was moderate at 329.1 million shares worth 3.91 trillion won (US$2.82 billion) with decliners outstripping gainers 537 to 286.
"Investor sentiment was relieved by the yen's rebound, but retail and institutions' net selling weighed down the main index," said Kwak Byung-ryeol, an analyst at Eugene Securities Co.
The Japanese yen has snapped its rapid depreciation against the dollar in the past few days, rebounding to the 99 yen level from the 101 yen mark, which runs in favor of the Korean economy. Shortly after the Seoul market closed, the yen fell back to 100 yen as of 3:25 p.m.
Selling by retail and institutions prevented the KOSPI from moving further upward. Retail investors sold off a net 43.8 billion won and institutions dumped 70.3 billion won, but overseas investors scooped up a net 110 billion won.
Large-cap stocks finished mixed. Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics climbed 0.52 percent to 1,540,000 won, with leading carmaker Hyundai Motor adding 0.23 percent to 215,000 won. Steelmakers were bullish on foreign buying, led by Hyundai Steel which jumped 3.23 percent to 73,600 won.
Shares of major banking firms lost ground. No. 3 player Hana Financial Group shed 1.42 percent to 38,050 won and its rival Shinhan Financial Group dropping 0.74 percent to 40,300 won.
The local currency ended at 1,122.20 won against the greenback, up 5.8 won from Monday's close, largely due to net foreign buying, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasuries held steady at 2.78 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds added 0.03 percentage point to 2.93 percent. (Yonhap News)