Seoul stocks inch up after weak U.S. jobs data

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks edged up after choppy trading Monday as investors seek to digest weaker-than-expected August jobs data in the United States. The Korean won rose against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) added 2.27 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 3,203.33 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 716 million shares worth some 12.1 trillion won (US$10.5 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 427 to 412.

Foreigners bought a net 64 billion won, while retail investors sold 99 billion won. Institutions purchased a net 46 billion won.

The KOSPI fluctuated in a tight range as investors weighed chances of a delay in the Fed's tapering timeline.

The U.S. jobs increase came to a seven-month low in August amid the spread of variant cases, raising expectations the Federal Reserve would not rush in tapering its asset buying plans in the September meeting.

"Market participants seem to be interpreting the U.S. jobs data in different ways and had the KOSPI boxed in a tight range," said HI Investment & Securities analyst Park Sang-hyun.

Tech and chemical gains led the KOSPI's gain, while financial firms and bank large caps retreated.

Top cap Samsung Electronics added 0.91 percent to 77,300 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix lost 0.93 percent to 106,000 won.

Internet portal operator Naver moved up 0.33 percent to 454,000 won, but pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics increased 0.32 percent to 954,000 won.

Leading chemical firm LG Chem jumped 3.45 percent to 750,000 won, and top automaker Hyundai Motor climbed 0.23 percent to 215,000 won. Top bank stock Kakao Bank plunged 4.21 percent to 77,400 won.

The local currency closed at 1,156.5 won against the U.S. dollar, up 0.5 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 2.2 basis points to 1.459 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 2.3 basis points to 1.719 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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