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Seoul: Stocks plunge to 6-week low on global growth concerns; won falls
[SEOUL] South Korea's Kospi stock index fell for a fifth straight session on Thursday, tracking Wall Street losses after weak US data, amid global growth concerns returned as OECD cut global growth forecasts again. The Korean won ended with a mere loss while the benchmark bond yields fell.
The US goods trade deficit surged to a record high in 2018 as strong domestic demand fuelled by lower taxes pulled in imports, despite the Trump administration's "America First" policies, including tariffs, aimed at shrinking the trade gap.
Other US data on Wednesday suggested some slowing in the labour market, though the pace of job gains remains more than enough to drive the unemployment rate down.
Also weighing on investor sentiment were broader concerns about growth after the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development cut forecasts again for the global economy in 2019 and 2020.
South Korea's finance ministry said the interim growth rate forecast by the OECD was also cut to 2.6 per cent from 2.8 per cent for 2019, and to 2.6 per cent from 2.9 per cent for 2020, adding that it expects the expansionary fiscal policy as well as low inflation rate to support domestic demand.
As of 0632 GMT, the benchmark index fell 9.81 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 2,165.79, hitting its lowest close since Jan. 24. The KOSPI index has lost 3.1 per cent in the last five sessions.
South Korean budget carrier Jin Air Co Ltd, an affiliate of the country's largest airline Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, ended up 5.6 per cent on hopes curbs by the government would be lifted after chairman Cho Yang-ho planned to step down as director from the group's six affiliates.
The country's largest carmaker Hyundai Motor Co closed up 0.8 per cent after a report that the company was considering plans to suspend production at its oldest plant in China as it reels from tumbling sales and massive overcapacity in its biggest market.
Hyundai "is reviewing production to enhance competitiveness and profitability", the South Korean company said on Wednesday, adding that the plan included "suspension, not closure of Plant 1 in Beijing.
Foreigners were net sellers of 284.9 billion won worth of shares on the main board.
The won was quoted at 1,129.0 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.02 per cent lower than its previous close at 1,128.8.
In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,128.7 per US dollar, down 0.1 per cent from the previous day, while in one-year non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,127.8 per dollar.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.26 per cent, after US stocks ended its previous session with losses. Japanese stocks fell 0.65 per cent.
The Kospi has risen 6.11 per cent so far this year, and rose 3.3 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 288 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 897, the number of advancing shares was 219.
The won has lost 1.2 per cent against the dollar so far this year.
In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds rose 0.03 points to 109.19, while the 3-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.89 per cent.
The most liquid three-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 1.1 basis points to 1.817 per cent, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 1.8 basis points to 2.003 per cent.