Investing

Kim Jong-il Death Drives Uncertain Korean Trading (EWY, KF, KEF, SKOR, PKX, KEP, SKM, ATK, RTN)

If there is one of several regions which can erupt rapidly, it is around the Korean Peninsula.  The death of Kim Jong-il (that photo is a tribute photo for him) after a heart attack has caused more market uncertainty for the South Korean market and the fear is that the North Korean leadership could face a power struggle.  The news is taking a toll on the ETFs, Funds, and ADRs which trade based in America as well.

iShares MSCI South Korea Index (NYSE: EWY) tracks the performance of publicly traded securities in the South Korean markets inside the MSCI South Korea Index and its shares are down 3.75% at $49.80 against a 52-week range of $40.65 to $69.99.

There are also two more fund vehicles via and ETF called The Korea Fund Inc. (NYSE: KF), down 2.4% at $39.54, and the closed-end fund called the Korea Equity Fund Inc. (NYSE: KEF) which is down 2,2% at $8.78.  Both generally have very light trading volume.  A much smaller and often illiquid play is the IQ South Korea Small Cap ETF (NYSE: SKOR) and its shares are down 5% at $25.59 against a 52-week range of $22.90 to $35.68.

There are three active and large ADRs from South Korea that we track which have NYSE share listings: POSCO (NYSE: PKX), the Korean steel giant, is down 2.9% at $81.47 and the 52-week range is $70.47 to $118.00; Korea Electric Power Corp. (NYSE: KEP) is down 2.3% at $11.28 and its 52-week range is $8.22 to $15.25; and finally SK Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE: SKM) is down 2.25% at $13.82 against a 52-week range of $13.35 to $20.29.

Trying to make any bold prediction about what leadership will rise and what policies will come ahead would be like asking a gunslinger to lead a charity fundraiser for children.  Of the defense sector, Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK) is a top ammunition maker and its shares are up 1% at $55.99 and rocket-maker and missile-maker Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) is up 1.2% at $46.07.  Any coincidence?

JON C. OGG

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