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Seoul shares almost flat amid cautious note

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Seoul shares ended almost unchanged Monday, the first trading session of the year, amid concerns that China may retaliate against the decision to deploy an advanced anti-missile defence system on South Korean soil. The local currency lost ground against the greenback.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) edged down 0.3 point, or 0.01 per cent, to 2,026.16. Trading volume was slim at 227.41 million shares worth 2.59 trillion won (£1.73 billion), with losers outnumbering gainers 449 to 355.

Institutional investors sold a net 87.1 billion won worth of local stocks, while foreigners and individuals scooped up 29.8 billion won and 38.6 billion won worth of shares, respectively.

“The KOSPI stayed in a tight range due to the cautious mode among foreigners,” said Lee Kyung-min, an analyst at Daeshin Investment & Securities, noting that the KOSPI needs market-moving events.

Most large caps closed mixed.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 0.17 per cent to 1,805,000 won, continuing a two-day winning streak, on an upbeat belief that the tech firm could pull off market forecast-beating earnings for the fourth quarter of 2016.

Market consensus for the operating income of the South Korean tech company is 7.91 trillion won in the October-December period. Many local securities firms, however, have been raising their earnings outlook beyond 8 trillion won for the tech behemoth.

Global chipmaker SK hynix added 2.46 per cent to 45,800 won and POSCO, a major steelmaker, advanced 1.17 per cent to 260,500 won.

Samsung SDI, the battery-making unit of Samsung Group, lost 2.75 per cent to close at 106,000 won and top chemical producer LG Chem was down 3.07 per cent to 253,000 won on the news that China will exclude vehicles with South Korean batteries from receiving subsidies.

AmorePacific, the top cosmetics maker, also tumbled 4.98 per cent to 305,500 won on reports that China disallowed chartered planes from South Korea just ahead of a major holiday.

There are mounting concerns that China would take further retaliatory measures against Seoul’s planned deployment of a U.S. air defence system, known as THAAD.

Leading automaker Hyundai Motor was up 2.74 per cent to 150,000 won and its sister company, Kia Motors, added 0.64 per cent to 39,500 won.

The local currency closed at 1,208.00 won against the U.S. greenback, down 0.30 won from the previous session’s close.

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Paul

The author Paul