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South Korea Stocks: Korea Line, Meritz Fire, Shinsegae, Woongjin

Shares of the following companies had unusual moves in South Korea trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses, and prices are as of 3 p.m. close.

The Kospi index fell 21.41, or 1.1 percent, to 1,989.11.

Builders: GS Engineering & Construction Corp. (006360 KS) retreated 4.4 percent to 107,500 won. Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. (000720 KS) dropped 4.1 percent to 77,900 won. The builders declined amid speculation projects in the Middle East will be disrupted because of mounting political turmoil in the Middle East. Thousands gathered in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, to demand democracy and an end to discrimination against the Shiite Muslim majority as unrest inspired by popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt swept the Middle East.

Shipbuilders: Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. (009540 KS), the world’s biggest shipbuilder, lost 3.1 percent to 440,000 won. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. (010140 KS) declined 4.8 percent to 35,000 won. South Korea failed to recover its status as the world’s leading shipbuilding nation in January, lagging behind China, Yonhap News reported, citing data from London-based market researcher Clarkson Research.

Korea Electric Power Corp. (015760 KS), supplier of almost all of the country’s electricity, gained 1.9 percent to 29,050 won. Sumitomo Corp. and Korea Electric Power signed a final agreement for a $1.5 billion power project in the United Arab Emirates, a Sumitomo official said. Korea Electric also confirmed the deal in a statement.

Korea Line Corp. (005880 KS), which resumed trading today, lost 15 percent, or the daily limit, to 21,450 won. The company will enter court receivership upon a decision by the Seoul Central District Court, according to a filing. Trading of the South Korean bulk carrier was halted on Jan. 25.

Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance Co. (000060 KS), a South Korean non-life insurer, lost 6.2 percent to 9,110 won, the most since July 13, 2009. The company’s financial strength rating may be downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited a plan to transfer part of its assets to form a holding company.

Shinsegae Co. (004170 KS), a South Korean retailer, added 2.8 percent to 275,000 won. The company plans to spin off its discount-store division on May 1, a regulatory filing today showed. Shinsegae will keep its department-store business, the company said.

Woongjin Chemical Co. (008000 KS), a South Korean synthetic fibers maker, jumped 8.2 percent to 1,255 won, the most since May 27, on speculation the company will post “strong” earnings growth this year, said Cha Hong Sun, an analyst with Hanwha Securities Co. Operating profit may rise 48 percent this year as higher cotton prices boost demand for cheaper alternatives, he said.

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