Seoul shares down for 4th day ahead of U.S. consumer prices data

August 7, 2023

South Korean stocks ended lower Monday as investors took a wait-and-see approach ahead of upcoming major economic releases, including U.S. consumer price data. The local currency gained ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 22.09 points, or 0.85 percent, to 2,580.71, extending its losing streak to a fourth day. Trading volume was slim at 497.1 million shares worth 11.8 trillion won (US$9 billion), with losers outnumbering winners 519 to 360.

Institutions dumped a net 330.8 billion won worth of local shares, outnumbering a combined 313.8 billion won purchased by foreigners and individuals.

Analysts pointed to this week’s economic calendar with the U.S. consumer price index for July slated for Thursday (U.S. time), which will be a parameter for the Federal Reserve’s rate setting.

“KOSPI appears to have no clear direction as it did last week,” said analyst Choi Yu-joon from Shinhan Investment. “Investors are waiting for the key price data. The July CPI is expected to beat the market expectation, while global oil prices are rising sharply to a yearly high.”

Battery shares were among the biggest losers, as industry leader LG Energy Solution sank 4.81 percent to 514,000 won and POSCO Future M tumbled 8.64 percent to 439,000 won.

Top oil refinery SK Innovation slid 5.22 percent to 192,400 won and major chemicals maker LG Chem dropped 3.3 percent to 615,000 won.

Carmakers also went south, with Hyundai Motor falling 2.19 percent to 188,000 won and its affiliate Kia losing 3.72 percent to finish at 77,600 won.

But chipmakers were bullish, as the world’s largest memory chip producer Samsung Electronics rose 0.29 percent to 68,500 won and its smaller rival SK hynix advanced 1.5 percent to 121,900 won.

Entertainment and game shares were also strong led by Hybe, which is behind global superstar BTS, and went up 0.92 percent to 274,500 won while leading gamemaker NCSOFT gained 2.18 percent to end at 281,500 won.

The Korean won ended at 1,306.2 won against the greenback, up 3.6 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed sharply higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys dropped 4.9 basis points to 3.689 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds advanced also sank 6.7 basis points to 3.712 percent.

A screen shows the main Korea Composite Stock Price Index in a trading room at a Hana Bank branch in central Seoul on Aug. 7, 2023. (Yonhap)
A screen shows the main Korea Composite Stock Price Index in a trading room at a Hana Bank branch in central Seoul on Aug. 7, 2023. (Yonhap)