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South Korea: Stocks at nearly 3-week low as foreigners sell, won steady

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[SEOUL] South Korean shares fell to a nearly three-week low early on Monday as foreign investors continued selling tech and auto stocks, while the won was steady despite heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Markets mostly took North Korea's latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch in stride, even as leaders mulled a global response to Friday night's long-range missile test, the second this month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with US President Donald Trump on Monday and agreed on the need for further action on North Korea just hours after the US Ambassador to the United Nations said the United States is "done talking about North Korea."

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.3 per cent at 2,394.84 points as of 0333 GMT, its lowest intraday level since July 11.

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"Foreign investors expect the pace of growth in the IT sector will slow down a bit in the second-half of the year,"leading them to pare their tech share holdings, said Rhoo Yong Seok, a stock analyst at KB Securities.

Foreigners are also selling auto shares in large amounts, he added.

Offshore investors dumped 164.6 billion Korean won worth of Kospi shares as of mid-session, weighing on the index.

Major tech shares such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix managed to gain 1 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively, despite the foreign selling, though Hyundai Motor dropped nearly 3 percent.

Shares of cosmetics-related companies skidded on the heightened tension. China is a key export market for South Korean cosmetics, and China expressed concern over Seoul's decision to deploy additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) units on Saturday.

Amorepacific Corp fell 3.4 per cent and Hankook Cosmetics Co Ltd dropped as much as 8.2 per cent

Decliners outnumbered advancers 580 to 224.

But Rhoo said the local currency's resiliency suggests that investors' sentiment was holding up despite worries over North Korea.

The South Korean won was quoted at 1,121.9 against the dollar, almost unchanged from Friday's close of 1,122.1.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.02 point to 109.33.

REUTERS

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