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Seoul: Stocks end weaker as foreigners sell on trade woes

[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index closed lower on Tuesday as foreigners trim their equity exposure out of uncertainty about the outcome of the trade talks between Beijing and Washington. The Korean won and bond yields declined. The main index lost 5.26 points or 0.24 per cent to 2,205.63.

A new round of talks between the United States and China to resolve their trade dispute will take place in Washington on Tuesday, with follow-up sessions at a higher level later in the week, according to the White House.

Despite some optimism over the talks, foreigners are still in wait-and-see mode and selling stocks, said Noh Dong-kil, an analyst at Shinhan Investment.

Foreigners were net sellers of 7.23 billion won worth of shares on the main board. The won was quoted at 1,128.2 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.21 per cent weaker than its previous close at 1,125.8. In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,128.51 per US dollar, down 0.3 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forwards it was being transacted at 1,112.85 per dollar.

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MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.15 per cent, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with gains. Japanese stocks rose 0.1 per cent.

The Kospi gained 8.3 per cent so far this year, and rose 9.99 per cent in the previous 30 trading sessions. The current price-to-earnings ratio is 12.10, the dividend yield is 1.28 per cent and the market capitalisation is 1,242.04 trillion won.

The trading volume during the session on the Kospi index was 384.23 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 896, the number of advancing shares was 406. The US dollar rose 1.37 per cent against the won this year. The won's high for the year is 1,108.67 per dollar on Jan 31, 2019 and low is 1,133.4 on Jan 21, 2019. 

In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.01 points to 109.26. The Korean three-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.87 per cent, while the most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yielded 1.800 per cent, lower than 1.804 per cent quoted in the previous session.

REUTERS