South Korean stocks closed almost flat Friday due to heightened political tension with North Korea, analysts said. The local currency fell against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) inched up 1.61 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2006.01. Trading volume was low at 301.5 million shares worth 3.37 trillion won (US$3.09 billion) with gainers outpacing losers 442 to 342.
"The United Nations Security Council's decision to impose additional sanctions on North Korea weighed down on the local stock market as it dented investor sentiment," said Kwak Joong-bo, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co.
The U.N. Security Council decided Thursday to impose additional sanctions on North Korea for its Feb. 12 nuclear test. Under the resolution, U.N. member states are required to inspect all of North Korea's maritime and air cargo "within or transitioning through their territory" if it's believed to contain illicit items.
North Korea said Friday that it will sever its emergency hot line with Seoul and nullify non-aggression agreements between the two countries.
Market watchers said investors also took a wait-and-see stance due to the upcoming expiration of options slated for next week.
Foreigners offloaded a net 16.8 billion won worth of local shares, and retail investors sold a net 73.3 billion won. Institutional investors scooped up a net 89.9 billion won.
Hotel Shilla, a South Korean luxury hotel and resort operator, moved up 3.16 percent to 52,300 won as foreign investors scooped up its shares.
Mobile carriers also closed higher, with KT advancing 1.23 percent to 37,000 won, and No. 3 player LG Uplus increasing 2.81 percent to 8,790 won.
Tech shares also gathered ground, with top chipmaker SK hynix advancing 0.36 percent to 28,250 won and flat panel maker LG Display rising 0.32 percent to 31,600 won.
In contrast, market behemoth Samsung Electronics shed 1.38 percent to 1,499,000 won as foreign investors offloaded its shares.
KT&G, South Korea's top tobacco manufacturer, shed 0.39 percent to 75,900 won as the country's tax watchdog opened an investigation on the company.
Carmakers also traded in negative territory, with No. 1 Hyundai Motor losing 1.16 percent to 213,500 won, and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors falling 1.11 percent to 53,300 won.
The local currency closed at 1,090.30 won against the greenback, down 3.20 won from Thursday's close, due to the rising tension with North Korea, dealers said.
Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed flat. The yield on three-year Treasuries ended unchanged at 2.66 percent and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds also held steady at 2.77 percent.