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Seoul shares end lower over U.S. shutdown, China slowdown woes

15:51 January 14, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean stocks finished lower Monday as concerns over the protracted U.S. government shutdown and signs of China's economic slowdown hurt investor sentiment here, experts said. The South Korean won weakened against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 11.05 points, or 0.53 percent, to 2.064.52. Trading volume was moderate at 427.92 million shares worth 4.87 trillion won (US$4.34 billion), with gainers outnumbering losers 420 to 412.

The index opened lower and had extended losses on heavy selling by institutions that offloaded local shares worth 178.8 billion won.

But retail and offshore investors picked up shares worth 42.5 billion won and 95.6 billion won, respectively, limiting a further drop.

"Fears have risen over potential impacts of the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. government not only on the American but on the global economy as well," said Seo Sang-young, an expert at Kiwoom Securities.

The U.S. has closed part of its federal agencies since Dec. 21 (Washington time), marking the longest-ever shutdown in its history.

According to an estimate by S&P Global Ratings, the U.S. economy had lost US$3.6 billion by last Friday due to the temporary halt.

"Amid uncertainties over Britain's vote on its possible withdrawal from the European Union, investors also got disappointing data on China's exports," he added.

China's exports fell 4.4 percent on-year in December, marking the deepest decrease in two years, and imports also contracted 7.6 percent, indicating a further slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Most big-cap shares on the Seoul bourse lost ground, with tech firms leading the fall.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 1.11 percent to close at 40,050 won, and major chipmaker SK hynix sank 4.61 percent to end at 62,100 won.

No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor decreased 1.22 percent to 121,500 won, and top steelmaker POSCO retreated 2.15 percent to 250,000 won.

Top-cap bio shares finished mixed. Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion skidded 2.54 percent to 211,000 won, while Samsung BioLogics advanced 1.9 percent to 403,000 won.

The local currency closed at 1,123.0 won against the U.S. dollar, down 6.6 won from the previous session's close.

Seoul shares end lower over U.S. shutdown, China slowdown woes - 1

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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