|Bid||82,500.00 x 0|
|Ask||82,600.00 x 0|
|Day's Range||80,300.00 - 82,700.00|
|52 Week Range||56,700.00 - 84,600.00|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.91|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings Date||Oct 23, 2019 - Oct 29, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||1,500.00 (1.89%)|
|1y Target Est||88,271.00|
(Bloomberg) -- South Korea is looking increasingly alluring to some global debt investors who see it as an oasis of decent yields amid more volatile markets elsewhere.That appeal has helped non-government-owned Korean companies such as SK Hynix Inc. boost overall overseas bond issuance to an eight-year high. The surge is all the more striking given the risks with South Korea: a nasty trade spat with Japan, economic growth that’s forecast to be the slowest in a decade, and uncertainty with the communist regime in the north of the peninsula.SK Hynix, Asia’s second-largest maker of memory chips, priced $500 million of five-year notes on Tuesday, Bloomberg-compiled data show. It was the first offshore debt sale by the firm since 2012. The company came to market even after Moody’s Investors Service cut its Baa2 rating outlook to negative in July, in part because of controls on Japanese semiconductor material imports to South Korea.With the right pricing, some Korean issuers are benefiting from strong demand for high-grade debt right now. Average yields on Asian investment-grade dollar bonds fell to the lowest since late 2016 last week with slowing growth worldwide pushing investors to safer fixed-income assets.A $150 Billion Global Corporate Bond Binge Smashed RecordsSK Hynix marketed the bond even after Hyundai Capital Services Inc. pulled back its planned deal last week, citing rising volatility in markets due to trade friction and weaker-than-expected global economic indicators. After escaping from junk-grade ratings in 2017, the Icheon-based chipmaker said it hoped to diversify funding by entering the offshore market.Non-government-owned Korean companies such as SK Hynix have boosted overall issuance by 27% so far this year to $5.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Raising money in the overseas markets gives them an alternative to selling won-denominated debt.As most of the offshore bonds from Korea are typically sold by state-owned enterprises or banks, there’s a scarcity value in offerings such as SK Hynix’s. The biggest deal to price this year was LG Chem Ltd’s $1 billion and 500 million euro ($552 million) of notes in April.The U.S.-China trade war and Korea’s feud with Japan are adding to uncertainties for the Korean economy, clouding the rating outlook for Korean companies overall. South Korea said on Wednesday it’s filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Japan’s export curbs on key materials used by chipmakers.But with the U.S. yield curve inversion marking a “watershed event” for global capital markets, lower volatility markets such as Korea are probably a good option right now, according to Todd Schubert at Bank of Singapore.(Updates with South Korea’s WTO complaint in eighth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Kyungji Cho in Seoul at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Monahan at firstname.lastname@example.org, Beth Thomas, Ken McCallumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Baa2 rating to the proposed senior unsecured USD notes to be issued by SK Hynix Inc. (Baa2 negative). SK Hynix will use the proceeds from the notes for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of outstanding borrowings and capital expenditures. "SK Hynix's Baa2 rating reflects its strong position as the world's second-largest memory chip producer and the likelihood of support from its largest shareholder, SK Telecom Co., Ltd., in case of need, which results in a one-notch rating uplift from its underlying credit quality," says Sean Hwang, a Moody's Analyst.
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. on Friday offered the first glimpse of an in-house software that may someday replace Google’s Android, an important step toward reducing its reliance on American technology.“HarmonyOS,” previously code-named “Hongmeng,” is a long-gestating operating system that could soon find its way into smart TVs and lower-end phones. The OS embodies Huawei’s shift toward self-reliance as American sanctions cut it off from vital technology, and escalating U.S.-Chinese tariffs jeopardize a carefully orchestrated global supply chain. Huawei’s efforts actually mirror Apple Inc.’s: to develop vertically-integrated supply and production lines that help reduce exposure to inclement market forces, unreliable suppliers and unpredictable events like international trade disputes.The newly hostile environment is putting to the test not just Apple’s “Designed in California, Assembled in China” slogan, but the overall preparedness of two smartphone-making giants as the decades-old made-in-China model fractures. Here’s a look at how dependent Apple and Huawei are on external suppliers.OS: Apple’s strength has always been the integration of software with hardware, and it has absolute control over iOS. Huawei is trying to do the same with HarmonyOS, but it has everything left to prove, starting today. For the foreseeable future, Huawei remains dependent on Android for its mainstream smartphones, especially outside China. Advantage: Apple.Software ecosystem: The enormous fortress of iTunes, the App Store and a dedicated following of enthusiastic app developers is a huge and profitable edge for Apple’s mobile business. Huawei will need developers to build valuable apps for its ecosystem, which is another major question mark. Advantage: Apple.Processors: Both design their own processors but neither controls their actual production. Instead, they rely on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to put them together and on SoftBank Group Corp.’s Arm for the licenses they need to design semiconductors. Advantage: Neither.Memory and storage: SK Hynix Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Micron Technology Inc. anchor the two smartphone makers’ storage needs. The Korean duo have a significant lead on RAM modules. Neither Apple nor Huawei has the capability to produce their own storage chips, though Huawei recently launched the Nano Memory Card. Advantage: Neither.Display: Samsung is the biggest supplier of the organic light-emitting diode displays that Apple uses for its iPhone X and XS top-tier devices. Others such as Japan Display Inc. and LG Display Co. provide liquid-crystal display panels for the likes of the iPhone XR and earlier models. While Huawei is in much the same boat, it’s increasingly relying on home-team vendor BOE Technology Group Co. for its OLED panels, which are starting to win customers beyond China. In short, neither is capable of doing the manufacturing itself. Advantage: Neither.Modems: Essential to mobile connectivity, modems are only going to become more important with the transition to next-generation 5G technology. Apple recently agreed to buy Intel’s modem division, a step toward designing its own 5G chips. But Huawei is already among the leaders on this front, having announced the Balong 5G01 modem in February. As with processors, neither has its own silicon facilities so they’ll again be reliant on specialist foundries. Advantage: Huawei.Assembly: Apple and Huawei are heavily reliant on assemblers such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., also known as Foxconn. Both also tap other Taiwanese contract manufacturers -- such as Pegatron Corp., Compal Electronics Inc. and Quanta Computer Inc. -- to varying degrees, while Huawei also relies on Flex Ltd. But unlike Apple, which decided years to outsource much of its global production in China, Huawei operates a few highly automated lines to make top-tier P series phones. Advantage: Huawei.Others: Apple and Huawei rely on a plethora of companies elsewhere in their smartphone production. U.S. companies Skyworks and Qorvo provide radio-frequency modules to facilitate 3G and LTE communications. Dutch semiconductor company NXP is the go-to supplier of NFC parts required for contactless payments. Sony Corp. is the undisputed leader in camera sensors and modules. And Apple-funded Corning Inc. supplies toughened glass. Advantage: Neither.Apple and Huawei appear to be the brains orchestrating a huge, international body of engineering muscle. They design their own software, processors, modems and phones, but ultimately have to hand those plans off to a legion of transnational suppliers and manufacturers.(Updates with OS’s unveiling from first paragraph.)To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at email@example.com;Gao Yuan in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
South Korean chipmakers are hitting a dead end in their quest to find alternatives for key Japanese materials that have been slapped with export restrictions, raising the prospect of major disruption to their operations in the coming months. Japan is now requiring special approval for sales of three high-tech materials, including two that are critical for chipmaking, to South Korea amid a deepening diplomatic dispute over compensation for forced labour during World War II. "Japan is slowly strangling our neck", one senior official at a major South Korean major chipmaker told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
South Korea called on Thursday for Japan to allow more time for diplomacy as talks on their most serious dispute in years failed to make progress, a day before Japan could remove South Korea from its list of favoured trade partners. South Korea warned that if Japan were to drop it from its so-called white list of countries that enjoy minimum trade restrictions, there could be sweeping repercussions, including damage to bilateral security cooperation.
(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. shares slid after South Korea’s most important company reported sharply lower profit amid global trade tensions and a wireless industry slump.Net income fell 54% from a year earlier to 5.06 trillion won ($4.3 billion) for the three months ended June, the Suwon, South Korea based company said in a statement, while revenue dropped 4% to 56.1 trillion won. Shares slid as much as 3.3%.The world’s largest maker of memory chips and smartphones has been hammered by geopolitical tensions and a wireless slump. The U.S.-China trade war has rattled the global tech-supply chain and weighed down the price of memory chips used in phones and data centers. In addition, Japan restricted the export of materials used in chips and displays to Korea, raising concern over potential disruptions at Samsung and SK Hynix Inc.Samsung had planned to announce its three-year shareholder return policy Wednesday, but put off the announcement until early next year, citing significant new challenges.“Shares are falling as Samsung delays shareholder return plans because of growing external uncertainties,” Greg Roh, senior vice president at Hyundai Motor Securities, said by phone. “As for now, the extent of global cloud customers’ investments and Japan’s export restrictions are important factors for Samsung’s outlook.”Its stock originally traded higher and then dropped lower during an investor call as Samsung said it’s facing uncertainty due to growing macroeconomic issues. Beyond the U.S.-China dispute, Japan may announce further export curbs against South Korea this week.“Even though Japan’s measures do not ban the export of the materials, we are facing difficulties due to the burden of new export approval process and uncertainties that this new process will bring,” Robert Yi, an investor relations executive, said on an earnings call. “We are dedicated to minimizing any negative impact on our manufacturing process.”Samsung did signal optimism about improvements for the memory business -- its most profitable -- for the rest of the year.“In the second half, demand is expected to grow although the company sees volatility in the overall industry due to increased external uncertainties,” Samsung said in a statement Wednesday. The company said memory demand increased in the second quarter as data-center customers resumed purchasing and mobile applications adopted higher-capacity products. The company didn’t commit to cutting capacity saying that expenditure plans for 2020 haven’t been finalized.Samsung had reported preliminary numbers this month that showed operating profit fell more than 50% and its net income did exceed the 4.88 trillion won average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.Shares have been little changed over the past year, though they’ve gained in recent weeks with hope of a recovery in chip prices and of progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute.Memory chips have been challenging this year. Contract prices for 32-gigabyte DRAM server modules, used to store data on PCs and servers, dropped by 25.1% in the June quarter, according to InSpectrum Tech Inc. Prices for TLC 128 NAND flash memory dropped 11.5%.Demand for DRAM is expected to rise on seasonal factors while servers will benefit as customers adjust inventory levels and resume purchasing, Samsung said in its statement. The NAND market should stabilize from the third quarter, it said.“We will continue to manage line operations flexibly depending on demand changes. Currently, we are not considering any artificial decrease of wafer input,” Chun SeWon, executive vice president of the company’s semiconductor business said during the earnings call.Chipmakers have been predicting a recovery in memory demand this year, but that’s been delayed amid the trade war and slower expansion of data centers. “A demand-driven oversupply in the DRAM market will push pricing down 42.1% in 2019 and the oversupply is expected to extend through the second quarter of 2020,” Gartner Inc. said in a note on July 22.The mobile division of the world’s largest smartphone maker posted a 42% decline in operating income to 1.56 trillion won. Samsung said its profitability eroded because of intensifying competition in low-to-mid range markets, and vowed to launch successfully the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Fold in the second half of this year.Samsung’s display division, which supplies organic light-emitting-diode screens for Apple’s iPhones, posted operating profit of 750 billion won due to a one-time gain and a gradual demand recovery. The consumer electronics unit, which includes TVs and appliances, posted 710 billion won of profit.“There are many negative factors for Samsung, but its display business is improving,” Song Myung-sup, analyst at HI Investment & Securities, said before earnings release. “Samsung might start seeing a windfall from the U.S. ban on Huawei and more display orders from Apple.”(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Sohee Kim in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Peter Elstrom, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If Hong Kong is worried about the economic fallout of political unrest, the city needs only to look at Seoul for a cautionary tale.Like the former British colony, export-oriented South Korea is caught in the crossfire of the U.S.-China trade war. More than 3% of its GDP comes from goods exported to China, which get assembled, repackaged and re-sold to the U.S. To make matters worse, South Korea is now embroiled in its own spat with Japan, after the Abe administration curbed shipments of key materials to make electronics. Some suspect the measure has a whiff of political retaliation for historical grievances, though Tokyo has denied this.This double whammy is taking a toll. South Korea’s stock market, dominated by sprawling family-run businesses, has long suffered from a so-called conglomerate discount – when a company isn’t worth as much as its individual parts. But the recent run of dismal performance goes far deeper than that. Among emerging Asia’s equity markets, only South Korea is in the red this year. The country’s stocks are now valued at only 0.8 times book, a three-and-half year low. Even cheap valuations haven't managed to inspire animal spirits.Take a closer look and you’ll see another surprising twist. It isn’t the trade-exposed companies dragging the Kospi Index lower. Shares of semiconductor giants Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. have advanced 20% and 30% this year, respectively. Even Hyundai Motor Co. has gained 8%, despite a global auto-sales slowdown. These stocks are well supported by hot money from foreign fund managers, who are betting that a weaker won – which has slumped more than 5% against the dollar this year – will boost exporters’ shares. Rather, it’s the domestic investors who are bailing. This year, mom-and-pops have already offloaded 5.3 trillion won ($4.5 billion) of their stock holdings, the worst selloff since early 2018, when they sent a rush of money toward the Bitcoin craze. This also helps explain why the small-cap Kosdaq Index, a retail investor’s playground, has tumbled 8.8% this year, compared with the Kospi’s 1.2% slide. Given foreigners hold roughly a third of South Korean stocks, their enthusiasm can’t fully compensate for apathy at home. The biggest factor keeping Seoul in a slump may be the government’s lack of diplomatic gravitas at a time of heightened geopolitical tension. One month into its trade spat with Japan, Seoul still hasn’t reached any resolution with Tokyo. This week, as Japan prepares to remove South Korea from the so-called white list, which grants minimum trade restrictions, President Moon Jae-in’s only gesture of commitment to tackling this headache is calling off his Thailand holiday. Meanwhile, Russian planes recently entered South Korea’s airspace during a joint military exercise with China – without formally apologizing – and North Korea has fired multiple projectiles for the second time in less than a week. When it comes to managing their wealth portfolios, South Koreans can be forgiven for wanting to diversify as much as they can – say, by buying into U.S. or Vietnamese stocks. That helps explain why the Kospi missed the bounce emerging markets enjoyed after a temporary truce between China and the U.S. following the G-20 in July.By now, value-oriented investors may start to find South Korea attractive. Korea Inc.’s corporate governance has improved, thanks to President Moon’s tough stance on chaebol. In the last five years, the payout ratio for South Korea’s stocks more than doubled to 24%, narrowing its gap with the emerging-market average of 36%. And this earnings season isn’t looking so bad either. Roughly 40% of the firms tracked by MSCI have reported, and 58% beat analysts’ earnings estimates. It remains to be seen whether South Koreans are willing to bottom fish.Hong Kong, I am afraid, is starting to look a bit like Seoul. Just like the Kospi, the Hang Seng Index missed its post-G-20 bump, as protests over an extradition bill extended into a second month. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has been practically absent from public view, even as protests turned violent and started to disrupt residents’ daily commutes. There’s nothing investors dislike more than lingering political uncertainty. Prolonged inaction, caused by a lack of leadership, is a big no-no in the world of finance. To contact the author of this story: Shuli Ren at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Moody's Investors Service has revised SK Hynix Inc.'s rating outlook to negative from stable. At the same time, Moody's has affirmed the company's Baa2 issuer rating. "The negative outlook reflects SK Hynix's declining financial flexibility, as evidenced by a significant increase in net debt during the first half of 2019, and the uncertainty over the company's ability to generate free cash flow through the ongoing industry downturn," says Sean Hwang, a Moody's Analyst.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- You’ve got to feel for the world’s biggest suppliers of DRAM.Makers of these chips, which temporarily store information in PCs, smartphones and services, endured years of boom-bust profit swings and bruising competition long before the trade war began. The sector finally consolidated into just three companies holding 95% of global supply of DRAM. And yet earnings stability still eludes them.SK Hynix Inc. early Thursday posted an 88% drop in second-quarter net income, the lowest in three years and missing estimates. Investors cheered when the South Korean company concurrently announced that it will slow expansion.SK Hynix supplies around 30% of DRAM. As much as manufacturers would like to tell you otherwise, these chips are all pretty similar, which is why they’re considered a commodity. And with most commodities, like oil, prices shift with supply and demand. Profits, in turn, depend on balancing price and supply against the cost of the multi-billion dollar factories required to churn out these chips.It’s no easy task. In fact, profitability is as much a function of game theory as capacity and cost management. If you cut supply while your competitor maintains output, prices may rise – but most of that benefit goes to your rival and you miss out. If no one cuts supply even when demand is falling, then you’re all likely to suffer lower prices, which could drag you into the red. There’s a collection of 14 nations well aware of how this works that came up with an ingenious solution: Sit down and negotiate supply together. Except they’re peddling oil, not chips, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries can’t always see eye to eye. Still, it’s better than nothing – if you’re an oil producer.Unfortunately, technology companies can’t get away with this kind of collective bargaining. They’ve tried. Antitrust regulators frown upon such practices and in the past have meted out hefty fines and thrown executives in jail for doing so. More recently, China started looking at Samsung Electronics Co., SK Hynix and Micron Technology Inc. to see if they conspired to prop up prices.Beijing has another reason for cracking down on the big players: China is determined to break into the DRAM market itself, as part of its long-term goal to be technologically independent. In line with this strategy, government-linked Tsinghua Unigroup Co. last month announced a new DRAM group, to be led by Taiwanese industry veteran Charles Kao.This news ought to have the top three players on tenterhooks. They know that while China’s semiconductor technology lags far behind, the nation has deep pockets and unlimited determination. When such capacity does finally come on the market, the world could face huge oversupply subsidized by the Chinese government and to the benefit of the new entrant. That sounds kind of unfair to the remaining players in Survivor: DRAM Edition, especially given they don’t have their own OPEC to complain to.To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Chipmaker SK Hynix Inc warned on Thursday of a supply disruption due to an escalating trade dispute between South Korea and Japan, and said it would cut investment and production to support a nascent recovery in chip demand. The global memory chip market is bottoming out after more than a year of steep price falls, and hopes of a recovery are being buoyed by Japan's restrictions on exports of some chipmaking materials to South Korea - home to the world's top two memory chipmakers, Samsung and Hynix. "We are trying to secure inventories of chip materials as much as possible ... but we cannot rule out production disruption if Japanese export controls drag on, so we are keeping a close eye on that," Jin-Seok Cha, head of SK Hynix's finance and procurement, told analysts.
South Korea's deputy trade minister Kim Seung-ho said on Wednesday he had asked a senior Japanese official for a face-to-face meeting on a trade row between Tokyo and Seoul but he had been flatly turned down. Kim said Japan was using trade to settle a diplomatic score, and the refusal of a meeting with Shingo Yamagami, the director general of the economic bureau at Japan's Foreign Ministry, showed Tokyo lacked the courage to face up to what it had done.
South Korea's bid to garner international support in a row with Japan by airing its case at the World Trade Organization brought no visible dividend on Wednesday, as no other countries took the floor to support either side, a Geneva trade official said. South Korea is protesting against Japan's plan to remove it from a list of countries that face minimum trade restrictions, and brought the issue to the WTO's General Council. After Japan's ambassador rejected Seoul's complaint, no other countries weighed in, the official said.
South Korea tried to bring international pressure to bear on Japan by airing its complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday, the latest move in a festering dispute that has seen Washington's two biggest Asian allies lobbing accusations at each other. Japan has enraged South Korea with a plan to "normalise" trade procedures that are currently "simplified", effectively curbing exports to South Korea and erecting a barrier that could disrupt the global supply of semiconductors.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. technology companies urged Japan and South Korea to negotiate a resolution to a dispute that threatens to up-end the global supply chain that the world’s top electronics brands rely on make their products.Five of America’s largest tech industry groups including the Semiconductor Industry Association, which counts Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. among its members, issued a joint letter to Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko and South Korean Minister of Trade Yoo Myung-hee. They asked both sides to refrain from escalating their conflict, which flared after Japan slapped restrictions this month on exports to South Korea of three materials vital to the production of chips and cutting-edge screens.Resurgent tensions between Japan and South Korea threaten to wallop chipmakers from Samsung Electronics Co. to SK Hynix Inc., upsetting a carefully choreographed global supply chain by smothering the production of memory chips and other components vital to widely used devices.The groups’ letter is well-timed: U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Seoul Wednesday for wide-ranging talks that come on the same day that marks the end of a public consultation period on whether Japan should exclude South Korea from its so-called “white list” of trusted export destinations treated as presenting no risk of weapons proliferation. “Japan and South Korea are important players in these global value chains,” the trade groups, which also include the National Association of Manufacturers, wrote. “Non-transparent and unilateral changes in export control policies can cause supply chain disruptions, delays in shipments, and ultimately long-term harm to the companies that operate within and beyond your borders and the workers they employ.”South Korean suppliers of key materials for chipmakers have surged since Japan unveiled measures targeting its neighbor, buoyed by hopes that they may win new business from key players including Samsung and SK Hynix Inc.To contact the reporter on this story: Sohee Kim in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at email@example.com, Edwin Chan, Jon HerskovitzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Japanese citizens angry at South Korea's role in a diplomatic row over their wartime history that has spilled into trade have found some unlikely allies: South Korean commentators using YouTube to attack their own president, Moon Jae-in. The South Korean leader has drawn the ire of conservative commentators at home for wrecking ties with Japan, a former colonial ruler now a key economic partner and fellow security ally of the United States. To thousands of Japanese viewers, the YouTube channels offer a rare honest appraisal of an untrustworthy man who has turned against a neighbouring democracy while courting the dictator of North Korea.
As soon as supermarket manager Cho Min-hyuk got to work the day after Tokyo imposed curbs on exports to South Korea, he pulled all Japanese products off the shelves. It was Cho's way of taking a stand against Japan in a quickly worsening political and economic dispute between the two east Asian neighbours.
Memory chip spot prices have risen for the first time this year, indicating grim warnings of "never seen before" spikes and a supply disruption could come to pass as a dispute between South Korea and Japan drags on. The 15% spike in DRAM chip prices over a week - in a sector dogged by oversupply and weak demand for more than a year - comes after Japan tightened curbs on exports of some chipmaking materials to South Korea - home to the world's top two memory chipmakers, Samsung and SK Hynix Inc. To be fair, the price surge indicated by industry tracker DRAMeXchange refers to the spot market that accounts for less than a tenth of the memory chip landscape as most major tech firms source through mid- and long-term contracts.