Seoul shares fall on weaker yen, election uncertainty

SEOUL Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:44am EST

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SEOUL Dec 17 (Reuters) - South Korean shares fell on Monday with automakers leading the decline over worries that a weaker yen will give a competitive edge to Japanese rivals following the election of a conservative Japanese party that favours aggressive monetary easing.

Uncertainty over South Korea's presidential election and U.S. fiscal talks also weighed, with investors booking profits.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) fell 0.6 percent to close at 1,983.07 points, losing additional ground from a nine-week high reached last Thursday.

Hyundai Motor fell 2 percent while Kia Motors slid 3.6 percent.

Japanese voters handed the Liberal Democratic Party a landslide victory, pushing the yen to a 20-month low which would help lower the costs of Japanese exports.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd also fell 0.8 percent, spurred by profit taking.

"Local institutions took profits on concerns that U.S. fiscal talks will be difficult to conclude by the end of the year if negotiations aren't wrapped up by this week," said Lee Young-gon, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.

"As Wednesday's presidential election adds to the uncertainty, investors are expected to avoid large bets and take profits this week."

But food manufacturers gained, with CJ Cheiljedang Corp rising 3.4 percent. A spokeswoman for the country's largest food processor said it intends to raise food prices after the presidential election. Other food makers are expected to follow suit.

Declining shares outnumbered winners 501 to 310. The KOSPI 200 benchmark of core stocks closed down 0.7 percent, while the junior KOSDAQ slid 1.3 percent lower.

Move on day -0.6 percent

12-month high 2,057.28 14 March 2012

12-month low 1,750.60 19 Dec 2011

Change on yr +8.6 percent

All-time high 2,231.47 27 April 2011

All-time low 93.10 6 January 1981 (Reporting by Joyce Lee and Chang Seongwon; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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