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Seoul: Stocks fall, won sags on North Korea tensions

[SEOUL] South Korean shares fell to a more than one-week low early on Tuesday and the won slumped after North Korea fired a missile that flew over the northern region of Japan, escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down one per cent at 2,347.63 points as of 0118 GMT, while the won stood at 1,127.0 against the US dollar, down 0.6 per cent from Monday's close.

South Korea's finance ministry said it will monitor financial markets and act to stabilise markets if needed after Pyongyang's latest missile test, which led to a fresh bout of risk-aversion.

"All sectors are tumbling, which clearly shows that North Korea risks are the reasons behind it," said Cho Byung-Hyun, a stock analyst at Yuanta Securities.

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Mr Cho said market players were showing a stronger reaction than usual to the North Korean missile test, given the latest bout of US-North Korea tensions has only just eased off and there was little other news to drive momentum.

"(But) in the case of Samsung Electronics, continued foreign worries about a leadership vacuum seem to be putting more pressure on the shares," he added.

Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Jay Y Lee, who was given five-year jail term for bribing ousted President Park Geun-Hye, filed an appeal on Monday.

Samsung Electronics fell 1.7 per cent. The sub-index for electric and electronics dropped 1.5 per cent.

Shares of defense-related firms showed gains. Firstec rose nearly 2 per cent while Victek hiked 11 per cent.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers, offloading 120.5 billion Korean won (S$144.83 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session, weighing on the index.

Decliners far outnumbered advancers 609 to 191.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds shed 0.04 point to 109.22.