Shares drop 1.64% on Europe polls, US data
Korean stocks fell 1.64 percent Monday as investors were spooked by election results in Europe and weaker than expected U.S. employment data last week, analysts said. The local currency declined against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) lost 32.71 points to 1,956.44, in its the third straight session of decline.
Trading volume was moderate at 527 million shares worth 4.69 trillion won ($4.12 billion), with losers outpacing gainers 622 to 211.
"The market retreated as investors felt uneasy about election results in countries like France and Greece that could affect ongoing austerity measures to cope with serious fiscal debt issues," said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.
He said the local bourse will likely need time to adjust to the latest political developments and determine if potential policy shifts will raise uncertainties.
France picked its first left-leaning president in 17 years, while the ruling party lost Greece's parliamentary race after it pushed forward tough economic plans to keep the country from going bankrupt.
Other analysts said investors remain concerned that the world's single largest economy may be recovering at a slower place than previously anticipated.
Most industries lost ground with autos and telecommunications pulling off modest gains.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 1.32 percent to close at 1,342,000 won, with leading steelmaker POSCO giving up 1.07 percent to 370,000 won.
LG Chem, a leading manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, plunged 3.29 percent to 294,000 won, while Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's largest shipmaker, tumbled 3.32 percent to 277,000 won.
Top refiner SK Innovation nosedived 4.66 percent to 153,500 won, with LG Electronics, the country's No. 2 consumer electronics producer, falling 3.19 percent to 69,700 won.
State-run power monopoly Korea Electric Power Corp., however, edged up 0.21 percent to 23,350 won, with top automaker Hyundai Motor gaining 0.19 percent to 257,500 won.
Kia Motors, Korea's second-largest carmaker and Hyundai Motor's affiliate, rose 0.75 percent to 80,900 won.
The local currency finished at 1,138.5 won to the greenback, down 7.2 won from Friday's close, dealers said. (Yonhap)