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(LEAD) S. Korean stocks down 0.6 pct on China woes

2016/03/08 15:45

(ATTN: ADDS bond yields at bottom)

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shares fell 0.6 percent on Tuesday as China's export slump accelerated in February, sparking concerns over deepening woes in the world's No. 2 economy, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) shed 11.75 points to finish at 1,946.12. Trading volume was moderate at 354 million shares worth 4.84 trillion won (US$4.01 billion), with losers beating gainers 401 to 391.

China's overseas shipments dipped more than 25 percent on-year last month, the biggest drop since May 2009, igniting worries that China's economic slump may deepen down the road, according to data released earlier in the day.

Also, investors took to the sidelines ahead of key economic events, such as the meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) slated for Thursday and the Federal Open Market Committee's rate-setting gathering next week.

"China's weaker-than-expected data are prodding investors to lock in gains, which rattled Asian markets," said Kim Ye-eun, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.

Foreigners sold a net 59 billion won, snapping their five-day buying mode. Retail investors snatched a net 105 billion won.

Utility and technology stocks led the overall market decline, while steelmakers, telecoms and automakers were in positive terrain.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics dropped 2.53 percent to end at 1,192,000 won, with global chipmaker SK hynix shedding 4.39 percent to finish at 30,500 won.

The state-run utility firm, the Korea Electric Power Corp., sank 1.58 percent to 55,900 won. Steelmakers traded bullish, with No. 1 POSCO rising 2.07 percent to 222,000 won.

Carmakers traded bullish, with top player Hyundai Motor advancing 1.02 percent to 148,000 won.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, a major shipyard, suffered an 8.11 percent drop to close at 5,550 won, after reporting a record loss last year stemming from a delay in the construction of offshore plants and order cancellations.

The local currency closed at 1,206.7 won against the greenback, down 5.3 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed higher. The yield on three-year Treasurys shed 2.1 basis points to 1.481 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bond also fell 1.6 basis points to 1.600 percent.

sam@yna.co.kr

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