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Kospi Index Analysis

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KOSPI Index * A Summarized report on the KOSPI Index over a 2 week observation
Apurva Joshi | F1601- Global Finance & Capital Markets |10/31/14| James Ryan

KOSPI Index Introduction
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index or KOSPI index is the Index of all common stocks traded in the Korea Exchange (KRX) which is based in South Korea created by the amalgamation of the Korea Stock Exchange, Korea Futures Exchange and KOSDAQ Stock Market under the Korea Stock & Futures Exchange Act. replacing the previous DOW-styled KCSPI. The Index is calculated based on market capitalization which makes it highly susceptible to the fortunes of its key market players. The Index is also sensitive to foreign markets as its key market players are heavily into the Electronics segment, where its key customers are based in Western Europe, North America and Australia.The Index's risk regarding market sentiment is also dependent on its relation with North Korea with whom South Korea has a history of war and recent skirmishes and its competition with Japan over the depreciating Yen. Rising Competition from India and mainly China have also pressurized South Korea's current position as the country with the largest weight in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Although new banking measures have been brought into place with the aim of strengthening the won which has depreciated greatly, the recent stream of cutting interest rates by South Korea's Central bank can cause heightened risks in the financial sectors if households increase debt which is already the highest amongst Asian Countries. ETF activity by Foreign Investors who can trade through custodian banks which act as proxies are directly proportional in relation with the US Stock Exchanges and Federal monetary policies implying that apart from customers and competitors based in the States, any policy incident in the USA directly affects the KOSPI's performance.
Apart from KOSPI the Korean exchange (KRX) is also structured around the KOSDAQ and the recently formed KONEX. In 2013 the KOSPI index fell below 1800 points which was primarily caused by cuts in quantitative easing and other associated factors. As global economies improved the KOSPI did recover going well above 2000 points, continuing the trend in 2014. However trading stagnation continued which amounted to a 16.7% decrease in the average daily trade volumes. Due to decreased Volatility and increased regulations the derivatives market was also decreased significantly over previous years.

Market Segmentation
Market Segmentation is the most integral component to observe regarding the KOSPI Index as it has some key segments which drive it.
The chart below : Screenshot showing change in the sectors between Oct 6th and Oct 17th 2014 from Bloomberg and their relative market sector weights in the KOSPI.

As it can be seen via the screenshot above, the KOSPI market is heavily dominated by sectors like Electronics, Telecommunication services and Information technology peripherals. Although the financial sector is growing, the market is also dominated by sectors like the less noticed Engineering and construction industry whose primary markets are in Africa and the middle East as well as Asian Countries.
However, like the Auto Industry and the Electronics and Information technology sector this sector also heavily relies on its revenues overseas. South Korea's chemical industry, another sector competes with Japan's chemical industry, focusing on lower value, commodity-type chemicals. The aspiration regarding semiconductors and clean energy sources is in line with the newly formed KONEX and the recent launch of the carbon emissions rights trading exchange. Shipping and fishing sectors are dependent on overseas and domestic markets respectively.

Market Dominance - Chaebols
A Chaebol refers to a South Korean form of business conglomerate. they are typically global multinationals owning numerous international enterprises, controlled by a chairman who has power over all the operations. One of the key factors driving the KOSPI Index is the role the fortunes of its biggest constituent members have on it. The dominance of Samsung Inc. which has market weightage of nearly 14.4% heavily weighs on the KOSPI Index. Samsung meanwhile in recent years has faced stiff competition from Apple Inc. in its main market of smartphones and has tried to keep a low margin to compete with cheap Chinese companies to maintain its 31% market share. This has severely affected Samsung and the KOSPI index in turn. It has to be noted that the 14.4% market share does not include all of Samsung's peripherals or other companies listed on the KOSPI Index who in one way or another supply or rely on Samsung. The South Korean Stock Electronics peripherals manufacturing sector is filled with small-cap companies which are tied to Samsung. Samsung produced a fifth of all South Korean exports and had revenue equivalent to 17% of South Korea's GDP Samsung also owns a partnership in POSCO.
The other big player is Hyundai. Although Hyundai seems to be smaller in market capitalization, it is primarily because Hyundai was also broken up into numerous subsidiaries which all still use the Hyundai trademark but are traded independently. LG is another conglomerate which has several family run subsidiaries and a big electronics multinational. Several such Chaebols within South Korea run the fortunes of its small-cap listed companies and the KOSPI Index itself. The Chaebols have enjoyed a "too big to fail" policy, have had numerous financial scandals and frauds and weigh heavily in the political sphere of South Korea. New governance mechanisms put in place, along with their inability to also have their own banks have tried to oversee them
This fact was also observed during the two week period as Samsung and Hyundai combined to plummet the KOSPI index. The fall in Samsung's stocks due to competition from Apple in its primary overseas markets and their inability to compete in the world's two biggest emerging economies of China and India due to competition from upstarts like Xiomi and Micromax respectively. The combined woes of Samsung and Hyundai managed to wipe out USD42-44 billion although Korean equities added 8.2 billion.
Political - Geographic & Export Oriented
Due to the nature of the big Corporations which make up the KOSPI index, it heavily depends on events both economic and other which happen in Europe and North America, the two big export partners where it has most of its constituent's consumers. In the 2 week observation period it was observed that the speculations on the KOSPI Index were heavily dependent on the federal reserve's upcoming decisions.
On Oct 6, the index started dropping due to weaker US consumption and housing market data. Initially the market was bullish due to the better US Employment data. However, the continued selling due to concerns over the sharp decline in the value of won made investors sell the short term bullish stocks for profit realization. On Oct 7, the fed's early rate hike weakened due to weaker labor markets only slightly managing to rise the KOSPI.
On Oct 8, concerns from Eurozone threatened to further slip the KOSPI, but recovered due to institutions buying dips and an increase in China's exports. The dip momentum and increased investor selling continued till Oct 10. These observations highlight the nature of global events that affect the KOSPI due to its aforementioned constituency of export oriented companies. Another factor heavily weighing on KOSPI is its close relationship with the Yen which has in the past determined its sway and the Chinese economy as observed earlier. The biggest non financial, geographic and political factor which affects the KOSPI is South Korea's relationship with North Korea. On Oct 6, the meeting of officials from North and South Korea and talks on future reunion boosted the KOSPI which had in its past seen its biggest recent drop due to threats of war emerging from the same country. Given the day and age, this reunification serves KOSPI greatly as it would significantly open new frontiers.
Benchmark Rates - Bank Of Korea
On Oct 15, The Bank of Korea further reduced its benchmark rate to 2.00% while risking spurring capital outflows to strengthen the Won and bolster the slow economic recovery. Buoyed by this news the KOSPI rose sharply and showed signs of going back to the pre Oct-6 mark.
References --------------------------------------------
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[ 2004 ].

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