Global Markets: Hyundai Heavy Plummets, Dragging Kospi Down

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Asia-Pacific stocks mostly rose modestly Wednesday morning as the remainder of the region opened after the Christmas holiday, though slumping shares in the world's largest shipbuilder weighed on South Korea's benchmark.

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The Kospi was recently down 0.2%, off session lows, as Hyundai Heavy Industries plunged 29%, easily its worst day if maintained through the close. Unit Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, which is also in the index, slumped 21%.

Hyundai Heavy, the world's biggest shipbuilder, gave guidance through 2018, announced a 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) stock-sale plan to raise funds for operations and said it intends to sell part of its refining operation through an initial public offering.

The update came three weeks after smaller peer Samsung Heavy lost one-quarter of its value in a day after warning of heavy losses and planning its own stock sale. Its shares were down 2.4% Wednesday morning, hitting 11 1/2 -year lows.

South Korean stocks were weighed down Tuesday by declines of more than 3% for Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix following a report from Taiwan that iPhone 8 orders were being slashed for the first quarter. That weighed on Apple shares Tuesday, as well as on Taiwan's market, home to many Apple suppliers.

Separate reports, meanwhile, said sales for the iPhone X, whose screen is thought to be provided exclusively by Samsung, have been muted.

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Samsung and SK Hynix reversed some of their stock declines Wednesday, and so did Taiwan's stock benchmark. The Taiex rose 0.5%.

Smaller gains were seen elsewhere in the region, with indexes up no more than 0.2% in a number of countries.

But Southeast Asia was outperforming with gains of 0.4%, including in Singapore after its benchmark hit a five-week closing low Tuesday. Overnight gains in commodity prices helped. Oil hit another 2 1/2 -year high, and copper notched a three-year best. Oil has pulled back nearly 0.5% in Asia.

Overall, "with limited economic data to push markets around this week, today really is about position squaring" ahead of the new year, said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets.

Australia's stock benchmark hit 10-year highs Wednesday in the week's first trading there and was recently up 0.1%.

But New Zealand's NZX 50 turned lower in afternoon trading after a four-day weekend there as well, putting at risk the prospect of another record closing high.

Bitcoin remains in the $15,500 to $16,000 range it's been in for the past 12 hours as trading in the cryptocurrency has calmed for the moment. It was recently around $15,700, according to CoinDesk.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 26, 2017 22:49 ET (03:49 GMT)