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Hyundai Motor sees first quarterly loss in 8 years

In this file photo taken on 19 April 2006 policemen walk past a logo of Hyundai

Despite improved sales, South Korea's automaker Hyundai Motor reported its first quarterly loss in eight years on Thursday, with currency swings sending it $180 million into the red in October-December, AFP reported.

Operating profit fell 35 percent from the same time last year to 501 billion won ($443 million), the firm said in a statement, and it made a net loss of 203 billion won.

"Due to weakened currency in emerging markets coupled with other external factors... profitability fell in 2018 compared to the previous year," said Hyundai, which, together with its subsidiary Kia, is the world's fifth-largest automaker.

The company sold 1.23 million cars worldwide in the fourth quarter, up 0.6 percent from the same period a year earlier; mainly due to rising demand from Europe and key emerging markets including Brazil and Russia.

It added that business conditions to remain grim in 2019 owing to an ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing and slowing growth in China - once a major market for the carmaker.

"We will focus on the early normalisation of business in key markets including the US and China, while bolstering our response to emerging markets like India and the ASEAN countries," it said.

Shares in the firm closed up 0.78 percent.

For all of 2018, Hyundai saw net profit stumble 63.8 percent on-year to 1.6 trillion won, while operating profit fell 47 percent to 2.4 trillion won.