Seoul stocks hit 5-month low on foreign selling

January 20, 2016

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korean stocks dropped to a five-month low on Wednesday as foreign investors dumped shares amid fears over China’s hard landing and falling oil prices. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar to the lowest level for 2016.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) tumbled 44.19 points, or 2.34 percent, to end at 1,845.45. Trade volume was moderate at 399 million shares worth 5.26 trillion won (US$4.33 billion), with losers far beating winners 743 to 110.

Analysts said Seoul shares lost ground due to the uncertainty over the Chinese economy, with falling oil prices also weighing down on investor sentiment. On Tuesday, China reported its economy expanded 6.9 percent on-year in 2015, the lowest annual growth rate since 1990.

Foreigners sold a net 230 billion won and institutions offloaded a net 89 billion won. Retail investors scooped up a net 298 billion won.

It marked the 33rd consecutive session for foreigners to dump local shares, when excluding the net purchase observed on Dec. 6, following the block deal of Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. Overseas investors also posted a 33-day selling streak in 2008.

“Making matters worse, local institutions also dumped holdings,” said Kim Jung-hyun, an analyst at IBK Investment & Securities Co. “While institutions tend to hunt for bargains during a market decline, they were in selling mode due to a gloomy economic outlook.”

Hyundai Merchant Marine, a local logistics firm, crashed 17.3 percent to 2,315 won on rumors that the company may be put under court receivership soon amid an industrywide slump.

Samsung Electronics fell 2.82 percent to 1,138,000 won, and No. 1 chipmaker SK hynix slid 5.3 percent to 26,800 won. LG Electronics decreased 3.65 percent to 52,800 won.

Carmakers also closed weaker, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor moving down 2.5 percent to 136,500 won and Hyundai Mobis stepping down 2.45 percent to 239,000 won. Kia Motors lost 3.78 percent to 47,150 won.

Air operators were also losers, with Korean Air plunging 3.93 percent to 23,200 won and Asiana Airlines moving down 2.86 percent to 4,080 won. Jeju Air dropped 2.86 percent to 4,080 won.

The local currency ended at 1,214.00 won against the greenback, down 8.10 won from the previous session’s close. It marked the lowest level since 1,215.6 won posted on July 19, 2010.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 2.7 basis point at 1.617 percent while the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds decreased 4.7 basis point to 1.760 percent.