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Seoul shares close lower amid geopolitical woes

SEOUL– South Korean stocks ended slightly lower Wednesday, as investors moved to pocket profits from recent sharp gains amid renewing geopolitical concerns in Europe. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 2.88 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 2,477.45.

Trading volume was moderate at about 645.72 million shares worth some 9.67 trillion won (US$7.29 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 444 to 419.

Institutions shed a net 211.29 billion won worth of shares, while retail and foreign investors bought a net 176.33 billion won and 41.14 billion won worth of shares, respectively.

The market opened slightly higher, tracking U.S. gains, but soon fell to negative terrain to skid more than 1 percent in intraday trading.

Investor sentiment was dampened on news that two people died in an explosion near Poland’s border with Ukraine, which Poland blamed on a Russian-made missile.

But most earlier losses were pared after U.S. President Joe Biden said it is unlikely to have been fired from Russia, given its trajectory.

“The missile issues in Poland are not expected to drastically worsen the geopolitical situation in Europe. But it would cause market volatility and prompt more to move to lock in profits from recent gains,” Mirae Asset Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.
Large-cap shares traded mixed, with major tech firms going up to cap the fall of the index.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 0.48 percent to 62,700 won, while chip giant SK hynix lost 0.11 percent to 91,500 won.

Battery maker LG Energy Solutions rose 0.67 percent to 600,000, but No. 1 chemical firm LG Chem fell 0.42 percent to 707,000 won.

Bio shares lost ground on profit-taking. Samsung Biologics sank 2.87 percent to 880,000 won, and Celltrion dived 4.52 percent to 179,500 won.

Carmakers also went down, with top automaker Hyundai Motor skidding 1.43 percent to 172,000 won, and its affiliate Kia going down 1.02 percent to 67,800 won.

Internet giant Naver fell 1.3 percent to 189,500 won, and Kakao, the operator of the popular mobile messenger Kakao Talk, inched down 0.17 percent to 58,600 won.

Top national flag carrier Korean Air Lines lost 1.53 percent to 25,750 won, and Asiana Airlines shed 1.6 percent to 12,300 won on news that the U.S. will require more time to approve their merger.

The local currency ended at 1,325.0 won against the U.S. dollar, down 7.4 won from the previous session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 5.5 basis points to 3.808 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond grew 5.0 basis points to 3.866 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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