South Korean shares wavered on Monday, the first trading day of the New Year, in very thin holiday trade.
The benchmark Kospi was up 0.12 percent, while the Kosdaq slipped 0.11 percent. The market had opened at 10:00 a.m. local time, one hour later than usual trading hours.
The South Korean won was weaker against the dollar, at 1,206.47 as of 1:30 pm local time, compared with the pair trading as low as 1.197.04 last week.
Other major Asian financial markets, including Australia, Japan, China and Hong Kong, were shut for the New Year’s holiday.
In stock news, smartphone maker Samsung Electronics was 0.33 percent, after its Chief Executive Kwon Oh-hyun said to employees in a New Year’s speech that no compromises should be made on the quality of its products. Kwon also made calls for employees to improve manufacturing processes and safety inspections.
This year, Samsung’s reputation and profit took a big hit after multiple reports of its latest smartphone model’s faulty batteries exploding. Even after product exchanges, the new devices continued to catch fire, ultimately resulting in Samsung killing the Note 7 model.
South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors announced a higher combined sales target in 2017 of 8.25 million vehicles globally, compared with its 2016 goal of 8.13 million vehicles. The companies were expected to release 2016 sales figures later on Monday. Kia said it fell short of its 2016 target, without providing details, Reuters reported on Monday.
Hyundai and Kia Motors were also preparing to boost vehicle supply to the U.S. and China this year. Hyundai Motor’s stock was up 2.74 percent, while Kia Motors gained 0.38 percent.
Shares of SK Innovation were up 1.02 percent, after its president said Sunday that the conglomerate would invest up to 3 trillion won ($2.49 billion) in the chemicals, oil exploration and battery businesses to boost growth in 2017.
South Korean exports in December grew for the second straight month, up 6.4 percent year-on-year, while imports rose 7.3 percent, leading to a trade surplus of $7 billion and adding to hopes that global trade is seeing a firm turnaround.