Seoul shares high global oil prices, Ukraine woes

An electronic chart showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) in a trading room at Hana Bank’s headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks fell to end their two-day winning streak on Thursday as investors weighed a fresh surge in global oil prices and lingering geopolitical concerns surrounding Ukraine. The Korean won fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 5.39 points, or 0.20%, to close at 2,729.66 points.

Trading volume was moderate at 927.75 million shares worth about 11.48 trillion won ($9.42 billion), with winners outnumbering losers 479 to 361.

Shares in Seoul got off to a weak start, following Wall Street’s losses overnight, and fell as much as 1.04% as oil prices soared on supply disruptions. a crucial pipeline on the Russian Black Sea coast.

But some of the early losses were recouped through strong individual buying, with individual investors buying a net worth of 675.16 billion won worth of shares. Foreigners and institutions sold shares worth 473.55 billion won and 223.31 billion won, respectively.

“The looming additional U.S. sanctions on Russia and more hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials on rate hikes have hurt investor sentiment. But some of these issues have already been priced in to limit the fall,” said Kim Yong-koo, an analyst at Samsung Securities.

Tech and bio stocks finished lower to lower the index.

Market leader Samsung Electronics fell 0.99% to 69,800 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix fell 2.43% to 120,500 won.

Bio heavyweight Samsung Biologics slipped 1.32% to 824,000 won, and Celltrion fell 0.88% to 168,000 won.

Major steelmaker Posco Holdings fell 0.82% to 304,000 won on profit-taking, and internet portal operator Naver rose 1.59% to 340,000 won.

But shares of chemicals and energy ended in positive territory.

Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution added 0.25% to 408,000 won and LG Chem rose 4.53% to 531,000 won. SK Innovation rose 0.48% to 211,500 won and S-Oil jumped 1.34% to 90,600 won.

The local currency closed at 1,218.80 won against the US dollar, down 5.0 won from the previous session’s close. (Yonhap)

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Felix J. Dixon