Seoul stocks retreat despite sound economic data

SEOUL-- South Korean stocks retreated below the 3,100-point mark Monday, erasing morning gains despite strong export data. The Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 27.87 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 3,079.75 points.

Trading volume was moderate at about 1.8 billion shares worth some 18 trillion won (US$16.2 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 510 to 339.

Foreigners sold a net 316 billion won, and institutions offloaded a net 459 billion won, while retail investors purchased a net 749 billion won.

The key stock index started with mild gains, as South Korea's exports rose 16.7 percent on-year in the first 20 days of February on strong shipments of chips and autos.

Stocks fell, however, largely as foreigners sold in the fourth consecutive session amid lingering concerns over the U.S. Treasury yields hike, generated by signs of global economic rebound from the pandemic.

"The combined foreign and institutional selling kept the KOSPI down," Kiwoom Securities analyst Seo Sang-young said.

"The local stock markets remain under selling pressure by the People's Bank of China's liquidity squeeze," he said.

In Seoul, most large caps closed lower.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 0.48 percent to 82,200 won, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix gained 2.63 percent to 136,500 won.

Top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics declined 1.64 percent to 780,000 won, and Celltrion dropped 2.83 percent to 309,500 won.

Internet portal giant Naver shed 2.89 percent to 386,500 won, with its rival Kakao dipping 2.68 percent to 309,500 won.

Leading chemical maker LG Chem fell 2.66 percent to 916,000 won, and rechargeable battery maker Samsung SDI retreated 4.03 percent to 739,000 won.

Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, slipped 0.21 percent to 241,500 won, while top steelmaker POSCO advanced 1.71 percent to 268,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,110.4 won per dollar, down 4.5 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys rose 2.4 basis points to 1.020 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond added 4.5 basis points to 1.389 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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