The Korea Herald


Seoul shares sink over 1% on heightened geopolitical risks; won sharply down

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 16, 2024 - 16:05

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An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap) An electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index at a dealing room of the Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

South Korean stocks slid more than 1 percent Tuesday as escalating geopolitical tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula weakened investors' appetite for risky assets. The local currency sharply fell against the US dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index lost 28.4 points, or 1.12 percent, to 2,497.59.

Trading volume was slightly heavy at 641.9 million shares worth 8.5 trillion won ($6.4 billion), with losers outpacing winners 647 to 230.

Institutions and foreigners led the sharp decline, selling a combined 587.4 billion won worth of local shares and offsetting a net 585.9 billion-won purchase by individuals.

"Foreign investors turned to sell-off mode after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made hostile remarks the previous day, increasing geopolitical risks in the region," Noh Dong-gil, an analyst at Shinhan Securities, said.

He also noted the ongoing military tension in the Red Sea sapped risk appetite.

In a speech delivered at a key parliamentary meeting Monday, the North's leader called for revising the country's Constitution to define South Korea as the "No. 1 hostile country" and to codify the commitment to "completely occupying" the South Korean territory in the event of a war, according to the North's state media.

In Seoul, most big-cap shares went south.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics fell 1.76 percent to 72,600 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix declined 1.49 percent to 132,100 won.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor dropped 0.69 percent to 186,200 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia lost more than 1.2 percent to 89,800 won.

Steel giant Posco Holdings and leading chemical producer LG Chem shed 1.02 percent and 1.48 percent to 437,500 won and 432,000 won, respectively.

Battery, bio and IT shares ended mixed.

Leading battery maker LG Energy Solution gained 0.25 percent to 400,500 won, but Samsung SDI and Posco Future M lost 1.25 percent and 0.82 percent to 395,000 won and 303,500 won, respectively. Ecopro Materials shot up 3.23 percent to 223,500 won.

Bio giant Samsung Biologics added 0.26 percent to 766,000 won, but Celltrion dropped 0.32 percent to 187,500 won.

Internet portal operator Naver went up 0.22 percent to 230,000 won, but Kakao, the operator of the country's top mobile messenger, shot down 2.45 percent to 59,600 won.

The state-run Korea Electric Power, meanwhile, jumped 2.94 percent to 19,240 won.

The local currency ended at 1,331.80 won against the greenback, down 11.6 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed mixed. The yield on three-year Treasurys added 4.4 basis points to 3.235 percent, with the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds shedding 4.4 basis points to 3.269 percent. (Yonhap)