Seoul Shares Close at New High on Shipbuilding

Friday, May 18, 2007
South Korean stocks hit a fresh closing high Thursday as investors picked up shipbuilding and machinery shares, taking a cue from overnight gains in U.S. markets, analysts said. The South Korean won fell against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) rose 14.98 points, or 0.94 percent, to 1,615.58. Volume was moderate at 445.7 million shares worth 4.67 trillion won (US$5.03 billion), with winners outpacing losers 544 to 226.

Shipbuilders led the gain with top shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries rising 6.53 percent to 285,500 won. Steel shares gained ground. No. 2 steelmaker Hyundai Steel advanced 2.45 percent to 48,150 won after a local brokerage raised its price estimate for the shares. Tech blue chips traded in negative territory. Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 0.7 percent to 566,000 won and chip giant Hynix Semiconductor shed 1.79 percent to 30,250 won on a possibility of the second-quarter operating loss. But consumer electronics giant LG Electronics gained 2.25 percent to 68,100 won on a bright earnings outlook. Source: Yonhap Financial shares also lost ground with top lender Kookmin Bank falling 0.82 percent to 84,400 won. U.S. stocks ended higher Wednesday on good economic data and takeover reports. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.77 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 0.88 percent. The local currency ended at 928.1 won to the U.S. dollar, down 4.1 won from Wednesday's close, as foreign exchange authorities said they would step in to keep the won from rising if needed, dealers said.

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